After a long proverbial republican reign, the state of Alabama elected democrat Doug Jones over Roy Moore in a special election on Tuesday night.
And in the same evening Black women–the undefeated kickstand of America, quietly strolled into polling centers across the Cotton State, maybe possessed by the spirits of the unnamed, underserved Black women before them, to cast a vote–at an overwhelming 98 percent, for Jones.
In November, several women came forward to accuse Moore of sexual assault and sexual misconduct. At the time of the reported incidents, the women were teens, while Moore was in his 30s. The uncovering again forced the general public to pick between two men and decide which was the lesser of the two evils because that is what American democracy has been reduced to.
The seat left open by Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ vacancy served as more than just an empty space. Alabama’s senatorial race was a microcosm of what is difficult about America–the refusal to acknowledge Black women–their unorthodox patriotism, and their willingness to place a nation on their shoulders.
That “nation” mentioned above has nothing to do with the flag, or the forefathers who enslaved us, or the white ancestors whom we fed and watched over. That “nation” is not soil, and it definitely doesn’t refer to the idea of America. It’s something much deeper, ingrained in what makes Black women a central fortitude. It is the whole lot–to support the greater good even if we are devoid of faith that it will actually serve us. To sometimes do away with what is in our best interest. The expectation that we will do so. The congratulations for doing so.
We are past fatigued and we are rising up.
Black women of Alabama arrived at the polling centers, passing spaces where their ancestors’ backs cracked, where they bled, where they were raped. Where they fought, cried and died to secure another stunning feat for the republic. Some walked by the churches that sustained them, where 54 years ago, four girls who looked like them were wiped away in a bomb blast fueled by hate. Where dogs and police and water streams rained down on them in the fight for equality. On Tuesday night, they destined for home in silos, without any knowledge that they had, yet again, secured the victory.
And yet, the tweets and political commentators began the parade: “Thank you Black women!,” they shouted and cried.
And Alabama Black women sat in the blue-black night listening to a faint hum that culminated on November 8, 2016 — where we again turned out in droves to prop up Hillary Clinton. It was telepathic–shared by their brown-hued sisters, a domestic and international understanding that something had to change — that this last time would be the last time. The hum, now at a fever pitch, rang in our ears.
The weight, the holding up, the swift thrust against us with no return will no longer be taken in stride.
“Listen to Black women,” “believe Black women,” “trust Black women,” Black women said. Not new phrases, but filled with urgent meaning.
Black women will no longer serve as the following: your bed wenches, your slaves, your wastebaskets, your moral center, your light in the dark, your maids, your preachers, your sassy best friends, your cultural refuge for hair, clothes, style and music. We will not be your band-aids, nor your punching bags or your target practice. Your picked over. Your passed over.
Now is the time for Black women to leave the table prepared with the bright cutlery, the feast and the wine. The first bite taken by the white men and white women who’ve enjoyed the fruits of labor. Then passed down and devoured by our Black fathers, brothers and lovers. And some remnants left to be consumed by our Black mothers and sisters. Watching with resistance as plates piled with patriarchy, sexism, misogyny and righteous indignation, are passed around.
Black women will no longer do this for you. With our heavy hands placed on the bible of Sojourner-Wells-Tubman-Chisholm-Hurston-hooks-Simone-Morrison–we pledge to take our place in line before all of you.
Even if that means the utter disembowelment of the American Dream–this place that we call the United States of America.