November 3rd is the day—though we may have to wait weeks or even months for the official outcome—that will determine whether this country begins to move toward the ideal of a more perfect union, or if it slips further into the depths of pain and despair that many of us have known for decades, and some have only recognized in the past four years.
I am sure many of you share my fear and utter exhaustion when considering these two diverging paths.
I am a life-long Democrat, making my first political appearance in a commercial for Mississippi Governor Ray Mabus at the ripe old age of 10. So it likely comes as no surprise my vote was cast for Joe Biden. If elected, he’s promised several investments to promote racial justice including greater homeownership opportunities for people of color, increasing venture capital for Black and Brown Americans, ensuring pandemic relief is targeted to Black and Brown entrepreneurs and holding financial institutions accountable for discriminatory lending practices.
I am less convinced any of his plans will achieve racial equity within our lifetime, and am far more interested in one of the signature policies of his running mate, Kamala Harris. Her LIFT Act is not perfect, but it is one of the closest approximations of a guaranteed income that’s been proposed at the national level. As someone who has run a program providing $1,000 a month to Black women living in extreme poverty for nearly two years, I know first-hand the power economic security has to unlock the potential of Black communities. I’ve seen moms pay off predatory loan debt, finish their degrees, get better jobs and move their children into safer neighborhoods. More importantly, I’ve witnessed the priceless benefits of reducing financial anxiety: happiness, pride, daring to dream big.
This is what I want for all people – and especially Black people – across our country, and I know it will never happen under a Trump Administration. You don’t need me to explain why tax cuts for the rich and corporations will never get us closer to economic equity. No one can tell you better than Trump’s own family what they think of us – that we, too, could have gold-plated toilets and skyscrapers emblazoned with our names if only we had a desire to “want to be successful.”
The reality is that neither party has a plan progressive enough to decrease the massive disparities that have been perpetuated through decades of racist and ineffective policies that have left our communities shouldering the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis. The coronavirus has only widened these inequities for Black women. And Black women in the South are in an even more precarious situation, with several Southern states – including my home state of Mississippi – accounting for the largest racial and gender pay gaps.
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Despite what happens on election day, we’ll never achieve the equality Black women are fighting for and deserving of until we focus on an economy that centers our contributions.
But here is the good news: we got us.
Just like Trump’s election wasn’t the first time any of us were made aware of our country’s deep racism, neither will another four years extinguish our fire. Soldiering on is what we do. It is ingrained in the DNA that binds all Black women. When thinking about our unmatched fortitude, I am reminded of one of my favorite lines from the Combahee River Collective: “We realize that the only people who care enough about us to work consistently for our liberation are us. Our politics evolve from a healthy love for ourselves, our sisters and our community which allows us to continue our struggle and work.”
As a Southerner, first by birth and then by choice, I have a strong lineage of Black Southern women freedom fighters to fuel my inspiration when it lags. I will build on the tenacity of Fannie Lou Hamer. I will echo the commitment to justice of Dorothy Height. I will emulate the community-building of Ella Baker. I will embody the fearlessness of Johnnie Carr. I will channel the righteousness of my grandmother, Dr. L.C. Dorsey.
In their collective contributions, I take comfort knowing that we will save us. In these reflections, I find strength, peace and rest.
The revolution we are bringing needs us rested and not weary.
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