On November 3rd, our nation is facing a crossroads that will impact generations. The results of the 2020 presidential election will determine if our government will continue to be a representative democracy or evolve into an autocracy. And in this moment, Black women are not only sounding the alarm, we are leading and organizing around Black voter mobilization, voting rights and social justice movements all across the country to help save our democracy from peril.
Black women are also putting it all on the line because we know that democracy and justice are on the ballot. The Black Women’s Roundtable/ ESSENCE “Power of the Sister Vote” Poll (BWR/Essence Poll) released in October 2020, confirmed that justice is the #1 priority motivating Black women to the polls this election. It is no coincidence that the same group of women identified racism/hate crimes as their #1 priority and criminal justice and policing reform as their #2 priority.
The 2020 BWR Annual Report substantiated Black women’s concerns about our democracy and justice, stating, “Researchers out of Clemson and Texas A&M University have found that generally speaking, when racially intolerant Americans believe that democracy will benefit people of color, they actually abandon their commitment to democracy altogether in favor of authoritarian rule. As such, counteracting growing hate in America must become a national imperative. Not only for turning back the increasing prevalence of violent hate crime activity throughout the United States, but also to preserve the Union as we know it all together.”
Further, the BWR Report also cites an FBI crime statistic that “for four years in a row, the number of hate crimes in America have continuously increased, including a near record breaking jump in the year immediately following the previous presidential election, with Black people being the most likely racial group to have been on the receiving end of such crimes.”
Black women are not only sounding the alarm that racism/hate crimes are their greatest concern, but we are leading the way in the fight for racial and social justice. Let us remember, Black women started the Black Lives Matter movement and continue leading the fight for justice for Breonna Taylor and so much more.
The 2020 BWR/ESSENCE poll further identified racism/rise in hate crimes, corruption in government and voting rights/voter suppression tactics as the top 3 challenges that threaten our democracy. This is another example of Black women sounding the alarm by taking action on their concerns. They are fighting back against massive voter suppression and intimidation tactics from the White House and GOP-led state legislatures in Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, as well as from governors’ offices like in the state of Florida. These are states that have been transparent in their attempts to suppress the Black vote, especially Black women and young people.
What is so shameful is that in the middle of the COVID-19 global pandemic that has killed over 231,000 U.S. citizens, there are elected officials who are filing lawsuits and changing election administration policies to make it harder for people to vote. For instance, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott established an executive order only allowing one location per county—across all 254 counties, regardless of geographic size or population—for voters to drop off their absentee ballots. In Pennsylvania, the Republican-led legislature filed a lawsuit seeking to block over 100,000 absentee ballots from being counted.
In spite of these voter suppression tactics, Black women are owning our political power in the 2020 election by demanding respect for our leadership and our vote. One key example of owning our power is that Black women across generations came together to successfully advocate for Sen. Kamala Harris to be selected as the first Black woman vice presidential nominee.
This is our legacy, our tradition, our super power. So many of us stand on the shoulders of our sister ancestors, including: Hon. Shirley Chisholm, Hon. Barbara Jordan, Dr. Dorothy Height, Dr. C. Delores Tucker, Amelia Boynton, Rev. Willie Barrow, Fannie Lou Hamer and so many more. According to Higher Heights for America, Black women are continuing to make history in 2020, with over “61 Black women will appear on the ballot for Congress in November.”
Black women continue to be the drivers of record Black voter turnout. In the past three presidential elections, Black women led all demographic groups in voter turnout. Black women study the candidates and vote in their best interest and that of their families and communities.
In every part of the country, Black women are even more fired up and are turning out the vote in 2020. They were the key to victory for Joe Biden to win the presidential nomination for the Democratic Party. Let’s be clear, though: They did not vote for Biden because of personality; they voted for him because he showed a commitment to listen to Black women and center our demands in his platform.
Black women have significantly shaped the agenda for the country. We are not going anywhere and are more determined than ever before to hold whoever wins accountable.