Can we talk about Black women?
We are a loyal bunch. The nation gets reminded of that during certain election cycles when we turn out in numbers large enough to make a difference, such as in 2017 when 98% of Black female Alabama voters helped Democrat Doug Jones snag a headline-making Senate seat win.
African American women don’t get the recognition we should. It’s not as if we’re not used to it, though. Most of us come from a long tradition of hardworking people who got little thanks or sometimes even financial compensation.
So when I saw Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' tweet on Monday, singling out African American women and thanking us for our support during the election, it stopped me. I remember because I had taken a vacation day and had been relaxing at the Jersey Shore when I read it and bolted straight up. I smiled as I looked it over a second time and then a third. It made me feel really, really good. As an African American woman, I felt seen in a way I usually don’t. I also felt appreciated. I felt understood.
Harris wrote: “I want to speak directly to the Black women in our country. Thank you. You are too often overlooked, and yet are asked time and again to step up and be the backbone of our democracy. We could not have done this without you.”
She’s referring to the fact that 90% of Black women’s votes went to the Biden-Harris ticket, helping the Democrats score big margins in heavily Black cities such as Detroit, Philadelphia, and Atlanta. Despite President Donald Trump’s controversial remarks about women and sexual-abuse allegations, most white females — roughly 55% — supported President Donald Trump.
I know what you’re probably thinking. Oh, big deal, it was just a tweet. Maybe to you that’s all it was, but it’s way more than Black women are used to getting.
The former attorney general of California’s tweet piggybacked on her Saturday night victory speech, when after referencing her late mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, she said: “So, I’m thinking about her and about the generations of women — Black women, Asian, White, Latina, and Native American women throughout our nation’s history who have paved the way for this moment tonight … including the Black women, who are too often overlooked, but so often prove that they are the backbone of our democracy.”
For the record, Black men — an estimated 79% — voted in support of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris too.
But no other racial or gender demographic came through the way Black women voters did.
It’s gratifying that the first Black and Asian female vice president to be sworn in publicly acknowledges not only her ethnicity but Black women’s role in getting her to where she is.
Biden and Harris still have a ways to go yet, considering Trump’s refusal to concede the election and efforts by his campaign and allies to delegitimize the results with baseless allegations of voter fraud.
But once Harris is sworn in — and she will be — she can push back against our intersectional invisibility so that maybe one day the average Black women won’t have to work 19 months to earn what a white man does in 12.
Hopefully, Harris will address how the coronavirus pandemic has hit African American women especially hard and why the Black maternal death rate is two to three times greater than it is for white women. Black women have had a hard way to go in this country. We still get discriminated against in just about every facet of life.
So, yes, I’ll savor these acknowledgments as well as Harris' historic, glass-ceiling-breaking win. Hopefully, they mean that Black women’s days of being “too often overlooked” are behind us.