Reflections on the Virginia & Alabama Elections
Living in Virginia, I knew the Governor’s race would be close. This is a state heavily in debate over the future of its Confederate monuments and was recently found guilty of putting police safety over civilian safety at the deadly Alt-right rally in Charlottesville. This is a state that ranks top in the nation for its school-to-prison pipeline and holds the lowest threshold ($200 as compared to Wisconsin’s $2,500) for a felony theft charge. Virginia has a deep, shameful and ongoing legacy steeped in racism and discrimination.
The day after the election when all the demographic statistics were published, it was no surprise to me that Black folks, and Black women specifically, were at the top of the “who showed up the most” list. I believe it’s because Black women understand the repercussions on our parents, ourselves and our children if we do not act in the best interest of our people at all times. We may not be in love with the candidate, or with the party for that matter. We may not believe the candidate will do much for the uplifting of our community or aggressively seek to right the many injustices we face–but we have a long and proud history of doing whatever must be done to keep our families safe and provide the best chance to not only survive, but to thrive. So, when I saw that 91% percent of Black women (in Virginia), in record numbers, came out to vote for the Democratic nominee, this made perfect sense. It was self preservation against the party that used the same, open, hate-fueled rhetoric we saw from Trump.
It also didn’t surprise me to see 51% of white women voted the opposite. I suppose, in some warped sense, they believed they were also voting for the preservation of their place, along with their husbands’/sons’/fathers’ places in society. They did the same thing for Trump, voting for him at 54%. The willingness to uphold white supremacy and misogyny by the majority of white women has been proven time after time in the history of this country, and I have come to expect it.
I believe we will continue to see similar results like Virginia across the nation, with the first election to confirm this being Alabama. I have to give it to my sisters there, who did come out a bit harder (98% to our 91%–standing ovation ya’ll). Given the constant attacks of this new administration, Black Women, Brown Women, Indigenous Women, Immigrant women, Transwomen and all other historically marginalized Women, will continue to show up to save ourselves in record numbers because, as the data has shown, if these two elections were left entirely up to white people, the Republican candidates would have won by a landslide.
So, thank you to my sisters and other WOC out there working to give us the best chance of survival. Thank you to those of us who are arranging rides to polls, holding community forums, setting up voter registration and restoration drives, knocking on doors, pounding the pavement and encouraging more POC to run for office. We fight for all our lives under an administration that seems hell bent on destroying historically marginalized people. We welcome white women to follow our lead and do the same.
Alycia Wright is member of the TWW USA Leadership Team – Diversity & Activism 101, TWW Richmond, Virginia Leadership team – Community Partnerships and Diversity, a homeschooling mama to four, and ¼ of the PerSisters RVA Podcast.