Stop Telling Black Women It’s Up to Them to Rescue US Politics

A black woman in a black coat with braids pulled back in a bun sits at a table with a cubicle decorated with vote and a flag
A black woman in a black coat with braids pulled back in a bun sits at a table with a cubicle decorated with vote and a flag
AFP via Getty Images

A year out from the 2020 election, I have seen numerous articles, memes, and videos around the internet imploring Black women and women of color to register to vote and to get their “voting squad” together.

Especially after Black women were hailed the saviors of the Democratic party in the 2018 mid-term elections, and their votes were crucial in the Doug Jones election in Alabama, the liberal electorate are on their knees praying that Black women will swoop in and save them from the white supremacist, homophobic, transphobic, misogynist, ableist right-wing oligarchs we currently have running our country.

You read that correctly.

The Numbers

I am pulling all of my data from the US census bureau voting and registration tables for 2016 and 2018 as well as Pew Research Center’s examination of the 2016 electorate.

In 2016, approximately 137.5M people voted.

White people made up 100.8M or 73.3% of the electorate. Of those white people, white women made up 50.4M who voted. And 47% of white women (or 23.7M) voted for Trump. Some articles claim 52% of white women voted for Trump, and even Trump boasts that he “won” women, but post-election analysis says that the percentage is closer to 47%, with 45% of white women voting for Hillary. Trump definitely didn’t “win” women (it’s just like Trump to completely disregard the existence of Black women and women of color who overwhelmingly voted for Hillary), but white women did vote for him more by a narrower margin than was originally thought. That doesn’t mean they’re off the hook, though!

In 2016, there were about 28.8M black people eligible to vote, and approximately 10.1M black women voted. And of that 10.1M, 98% of black women voted for Hillary. Nearly every single Black woman who voted in 2016 voted for Hillary, and it wasn’t enough (not even close) to beat out white supremacist women. (Yes, Hillary won the popular vote, but she didn’t win the electorate. And that’s an essay for another day.)

What if every single eligible Black female voter voted against Trump in 2020?

According to data from the 2018 mid-term elections, there are approximately 16.3M Black female voters TOTAL and only 8.9M actually voted. Of course, not everyone votes. Sometimes that’s because of voter disenfranchisement, voter suppression, and gerrymandering, other times it’s because of lack of ability to take off from work or caring for family members. Still other times it’s because the politicians running for office aren’t actually doing anything or going to do anything to make positive changes in the lives of minorities, so why would you vote for some schmuck who couldn’t give a damn about your everyday realities? But let’s say we live in a utopian society where Election Day is a federal holiday and voter suppression doesn’t exist and the candidate has clear plans to empower black people and people of color and every single black woman voted… every single black female vote still would not trump the 23.7M white supremacist women’s votes.

But I am not arguing that black women’s votes are pointless!

Additionally, Latina voters make up 14.9M people, and only 6.5M voted in 2018.

But still.

The onus should be on white women to not fuck up 2020

What I’m saying is, just like the onus is on white people to dismantle white supremacy, the onus is not and should not be on black women and women of color to somehow rescue American society from white supremacist politics.

In 2018, 40.7M white women didn’t vote.

So the pressure need not be on Black women and women of color to somehow collectively do better, when they are doing PLENTY ALREADY.

The pressure needs to be on anti-racist white women to not just vote and cast their votes against Trump but to also put pressure on their white family members, friends, and peers to vote against Trump and everything Trump represents as well. As a white woman, I am telling other white women we are the ones that let minorities down in 2016, so we should be the ones to try and un-fuck ourselves in 2020 instead of relying on Black women and women of color to come and rescue everyone. We are not doing enough and have not historically done enough to stand up to white supremacy, especially at the polls. So get your voting squad together, white women. I implore you to vote… for not Trump.

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Author. Playwright. Poet. Activist.

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