On Saturday, Nov. 7, an arduous election cycle came to an end, resulting in President-elect Joseph R. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. In the time since polls closed on Tuesday, voters were on edge, commiserating on Twitter about vote counts. On Friday, Nov. 6, President-elect Biden crept ahead in the polls in Pennsylvania and Georgia, two states with heavy amounts of mail-in ballots.
According to the New York Times 2020 Exit Polls, 55% of white women voted for Trump. These are the same women who I saw posting about how the election was “in God’s hands,” and that we should all “be kind, no matter who wins.” However, the blatant disregard for the United States’ non-white citizens that a vote for Trump indicates does not allow for disagreements. The kindness offered by white women means nothing, just as the notorious black square, a social media response to George Floyd’s death, was nothing but performance. The bottom line is, there is a problem in white communities, and us white women are not carrying our weight.
In her article “Black women saved the Democrats. Don’t make us do it again,”
for the Washington Post, writer Taylor Crumpton wrote, “From the 2016 presidential election to the Senate special election in Alabama in 2017 and the 2018 midterm elections, more than 90 percent of Black women voted for the Democratic candidate, and that’s not even to mention all the work they did for voter registration and turnout.” According to the same exit poll which lists 55% of white women voting for the Democratic candidate, 91% of Black women voted for the Biden-Harris ticket this year, an action that may ultimately benefit white women most in the long run.
Black women such as 2018 Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams are credited with getting out the vote in some of the most contended states in the 2020 election. Even in defeat, Abrams took the reins in motivating Black Georgia voters for the Biden-Harris campaign. For Black women, these races are a matter of life and death.
If you can’t think of any white women being commended for a similar action, it’s because white women hold enough privilege that either way the race went, we would ostensibly be fine. However, with Judge Amy Coney Barrett newly appointed to the Supreme Court, every woman’s rights in the United States were thrown into uncertainty. Black women saved us by removing Trump from office, but we, as white women, can never bring ourselves to do anything besides perform empathy for our Black sisters who are, and have been, regularly put in danger by the United States’ government since the formation of America.
There’s really no excuse for this kind of behavior. When it comes down to people’s rights, kindness means nothing and action means everything. Whether or not we voted for Trump, at this point, is no matter; we need to do as much to mobilize our communities as Black women are doing. We cannot let our privilege blind us to the severity of the fight.
I am now going to list some ways we, as white women, can begin to take on our share of the fight for everyone to have the same rights and quality of life in the United States of America. I want to make it clear that I am getting these ideas from Black authors and activists like Akilah Hughes, Blair Imani, and Rachel Cargle, among others. As white women, we must take our cues from Black women without asking them to carry our burden.
We must have hard conversations with the people in our lives. We cannot let our friends and family get away with racism. We must call them out when they are wrong. We must not forgive them for things that do not directly affect us. That is not our job.
We must mobilize volunteers for important elections, even at local and state levels. These elections can result in outcomes that directly threaten our Black communities. This means doing more than just voting, but organizing volunteers.
We must support Black businesses and Black creators all year long, celebrating Black life regardless of current events.
We must acknowledge our privilege, uncenter ourselves and listen instead of becoming defensive when Black women tell us we are hurting them. I recommend you start this process with a guided course like Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad. It will make you uncomfortable, but we need to be okay with being uncomfortable. That’s what giving up privilege means.
We white women must not be complacent under a Biden-Harris presidency that caters to our needs as white people. We must hold our new leaders accountable for their actions and policies, and we must do this without ourselves in mind.
This list is by no means definitive, but it’s much more effective than kindness. White women, we owe it to hard working Black women to ease their burden, to make their fight worth it. We must start carrying our weight.