After Democratic attorney Doug Jones won the Alabama senate race over Roy Moore, a Republican who has also been accused of child molestation and supporting slavery, many turned to the exit polls to understand just how this unlikely event occurred. As it turns out, every Democrat and opponent of child molestation has black women to thank for the election results. 98 percent of black women who voted on Tuesday night went in favor of the Democratic candidate (and that’s compared to 63 percent of white women who supported Moore).
BLACK ALABAMA VOTERS JUST SAVED US. ESPECIALLY BLACK WOMEN - 97%! pic.twitter.com/2dAgoG05sN— Robin Thede (@robinthede) December 13, 2017
The logical argument was quick to unfold on social media: black women have saved America. #BlackWomen began trending on Twitter. But soon a pretty predictable and unfortunate narrative: the group of people thanking black women hadn’t even stopped to consider why they had “saved America,” and instead just assumed it was out of an innate caretaking instinct.
Black women: Please actually listen to us instead of just fetishizing our votes— Studio Glibly (@NoTotally) December 13, 2017
Everyone else: You're a hashtag now
This narrative about Black voters "saving" Alabama would imply that majority of white voters--the majority of people in the state--wanted to be "saved" from Moore. They didn't. Black voters protected themselves— Bree Newsome (@BreeNewsome) December 13, 2017
On Wednesday's episode of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah interviewed Dulce Sloan, who got to the heart of the issue with a little bit of humor. “We’ve been through so much!” Sloan said when Noah asked her about the online response to black women voters in Alabama. “And you’re welcome, white people. But let’s be honest, we didn’t do it for you, we did it for ourselves. No black woman cast her vote going, ‘This one’s for Scott!'”
Seth Meyers brought out Late Night writer Amber Ruffin to deliver a searing monologue on his show:
“Do you know what these women go through every day?” Ruffin said. “Those women woke up yesterday and were like, ‘I’ve got to deal with systemic racism, the gender pay gap, the school-to-prison pipeline, humidity and now y’all want me to save America?’”
The larger takeaway is that the country should indeed be thanking the black women of Alabama for helping to decrease the Republican majority in the Senate and to not elect a man who literally said America was a great country during slavery. But the country should not default into the very same unconscious biases and prejudices that it always has: listen to these black women who you are praising, and hear what they are saying. If you are in a position of power, give a black woman a chance by hiring her or giving her a platform. Support black women and men who protest racial injustices in this country. Educate yourself on the contributions of black women throughout history—they’ve done a lot more to “save America” than just vote in one Democratic senator in 2017—and act accordingly.
I love that #BlackWomen is trending on Twitter. Will people actually invest their resources in Black women? Will organizations and venture capitalists and businesses help Black women launch our own businesses? Help us run for office? Actually listen to us when we speak?— Evette Dionne 🤔 (@freeblackgirl) December 13, 2017