Don’t just say thank you to black women; do better, be better, Alabama.
The righteous have spoken in Alabama as the world watched in election speculation. Black Southern rural women in the poorest counties in the state voted in high ranks, as usual, for Doug Jones for the United States Senate. This was done not to save white America, but to generate political power and to give space to the voice of Southern women in the narrative of change. According to exit polls, approximately 97% of black women voted for Doug Jones. Cities in the Black Belt of a red state (turned slightly purple in areas such as Perry County and Dallas County), plagued with high rates of poverty and a legacy of racism, turned history on its head.
The righteous have spoken in Alabama…black Southern rural woman power.
Damn, everybody should hug a black woman from Alabama in the coming weeks. From one Southern rural woman to another, thank you, my sisters. Although the campaign Jones ran was not always one where we felt included or heard, we said no to Moore not only to save a state, but also to send a message to the world. Remarkably, the African American vote sealed the deal against Roy Moore’s regimen. America now knows emphatically that Alabama does not stand for homophobia, legalistic religious hand-churning, anti-black oppression, anti-Semitic rhetoric, or alleged pedophilia.
In Alabama, you will not only find a rich culture of blue collar workers, but grassroots organizers in the Black Belt who are fighting every day for health and justice, such as the Black Belt Citizens (BBC) in Uniontown, Alabama. The success of Jones' campaign and digital media methods spearheaded people toward unification, with Southern rural woman at the forefront as a legacy for future generations.
The great state of Alabama humbly stands on the shoulders of Southern rural black woman.
The robocalls, text, and celebrity interviews are done; the leadership of the great state of Alabama humbly stands on the shoulders of Southern black rural women, as it always has. Now is the time to maintain the momentum towards Southern rural black women’s power and galvanize Jones' win. Setting the stage to rid a state riddled with past shame, Southern rural women — including rising young voters and millennials — spoke with their votes at polls throughout the state, standing for justice. Born and bred in the Black Belt, watching strong Southern rural women who are judges, councilwomen, factory workers, and community organizers, I cut my teeth on Alabama's values of integrity and truth-telling. Therefore, it’s integral that the issues that black people and black women care about be thrust to the forefront. Some of these issues are:
• Fair and safe labor for all women
• Wage and labor equity for all women
• Environmental justice
• Proper sanitation in rural areas
• Affordable quality childcare
• Affordable access to health insurance
• Getting rid of poverty and systemic racism
• Tax reform for poor and middle class
• More Southern rural black women's voices in media and government
• Getting rid of crime and the criminalization of the poor
• Better housing and transportation
• A working living wage
• And many more…
I will summon Southern rural black women to run for office themselves — locally, statewide, and nationally. The facts are that Southern rural black women vote (and always have) in high numbers, marking a difference and exacting local change. Senator Jones, as you listen to our issues, catapult them to the front of your agenda, while with strength, we shall hold you accountable. Southern rural black women, now is the time to continue to do what you have always done, and that is speak loud and proud, using our voices for change and creating a south we have imagined it to be. Yes, the world is watching, but better yet, our youth are depending on us to be the change as we beckon common decency as a lasting victory.
In the words of my black rural Southern grandmother: If you want to see the world change, ask a black woman; if you want a black woman to change the world, give her the power to vote; if you want to see that power transform a world, vote for her. Alabamians just might be slightly awake and becoming engaged, giving notice and gratitude to the black rural Southern woman. This is only a beginning, there is so much more to do to move Alabama towards sustainable progress and dismantle the old South machine. Let us all join Southern rural women in shutting down everything that threatens to separate this state.
Top photo via Doug Jones For Senate
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Salaam Green, M.S.: Poet, Author, Social Health Activist and Speaker. Founder of the Literary Healing Arts Foundation, promoting the healing power of words. 2016 Poet Laureate for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Contact Salaam and subscribe to book Salaam for speaking, community healing circles and workshops, or poetry showcases and readings at www.literaryhealingarts.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @beautifulblackpoetry on Instagram as Lit Healer; @salaamgreen1 on Twitter; Salaam Green on Facebook.