As the Biden-Harris ticket officially inches closer to the Oval Office to bring to an end the most divisive and bizarre presidency in modern history, Black women’s polling habits have emerged as the heroes of the election having voted for Biden at a rate of 90% and swinging Georgia blue for the first time in three decades.
"And especially for those moments when this campaign was at its lowest — the African American community stood up again for me," Biden said. "They always have my back, and I'll have yours."
Harris took a more direct approach, thanking “the Black women who are too often overlooked, but so often prove they are the backbone of our democracy.”
A diverse range of celebrities rode the wave and posted their gratitude on social media for the tenacity of the Black female vote.
"Let us not roll over it or ever forget that Black Americans, Women and Men brought this change to us, this gift.Yes all good people of this country of ours voted that's clear.Yet if there's one thing that is finally clear today to Trump Republicans it's this; Black Lives Matter," tweeted famed character actor and Daredevil star Vincent D'Onofrio.
Let us not roll over it or EVER forget that BLACK AMERICANS, Women and Men brought this change to us, this gift.
Yes all good people of this country of ours voted that's clear.
Yet if there's one thing that is finally clear today to Trump Republicans it's this;
BLACK LIVES MATTER
— Vincent D'Onofrio (@vincentdonofrio) November 6, 2020
"Thank you Black Women," wrote Olympian and women's world FIFA champion Megan Rapinoe.
Thank you Black Women. ❤️????✊????✊????✊????
— Megan Rapinoe (@mPinoe) November 7, 2020
While the public praise for Black women is cute, and always appropriate, Black women deserve more than lip service for rescuing America (again).
Here are five tangible ways allies can show appreciation for Black women.
1. Advocate for your Black co-workers
The Black women’s pay gap is an insidious problem that threatens the financial stability of an already fragile demographic. Black women’s equal pay day falls in August as a reflection of the nine additional months Black women would have to work in order to make the same annual wage as that of a white man. From office administration to medicine, Black women are bringing home less bacon than every other group, as Blavity previously reported.
The wage gap is helped along by an outdated taboo of not discussing salaries with colleagues. But without the information, many Black co-workers are left completely in the dark about how much, or little, they are making in relation to their colleagues. In recent years, stories have made headlines as white allies advocate for their Black co-workers ensuring they secure equal pay. More of this, please.
Discuss pay with Black co-workers to ensure fair pay and act accordingly if they are being exploited.
2. Fight for equality in maternal health
Black mothers are dying in early maternity at a rate four times higher than white mothers.
A spotlight has been placed on the disparity and legislation is being created and pushed to put an end to this epidemic. This year, House representatives, that include Vice President-elect Harris and Reps. Lauren Underwood (D-IL) and Alma Adams (D-NC), partnered with the Black Maternal Health Caucus to craft real world solutions, as Blavity previously reported.
"While maternal mortality rates continue to drop around the world, they are rising in the U.S., leaving behind devastated families and children who will grow up never knowing their moms. This crisis demands urgent attention and serious action to save the lives of Black mothers and all women across the county," Underwood said.
"The Black Maternal Health Momnibus is a sweeping effort to address our nation's maternal mortality crisis through effective, evidence-based, and culturally competent solutions. The time to end preventable maternal mortality and close racial and ethnic disparities in outcomes is long overdue. With the Black Maternal Health Momnibus, we can work together to solve this crisis right now. New moms and their children and families deserve nothing less," the congresswoman continued.
Allies can make sure they’re not only supporting legislation that addresses equality in maternal health, but are also pressing their representatives to support and enact legislation.
3. Advocate for affordable childcare
It’s no secret that children are expensive. The United States is also facing a child care crisis. This expense is amplified for Black mothers, who are more likely than women of other races to work outside of the home, according to a data chart on Tableau. The average child care for a four-year-old costs almost $18,000, which is nearly 42% of the median income for Black families, according to The Center for American Progress.
Advocating for Black women also means creating a country where they can afford to go to work knowing their child care will not deplete their paychecks.
4. Hold politicians accountable alongside them
This election shows more than anything the power of the Black woman voting bloc and the optimism of Black voters everywhere.
Biden and Harris have both come under fire for perceived unsupportive comments and actions directed at the Black community. In 2019, Harris raised eyebrows after she expressed her non-support for race based reparations in an interview for The Grio.
"Any policy that will benefit Black people will benefit all of society. Let’s be clear about that. Let’s really be clear about that,” she said. “So I’m not gonna sit here and say I’m gonna do something that’s only gonna benefit Black people. No. Because whatever benefits that Black family will benefit that community and society as a whole and the country, right?”
Biden has had a career of political gaffes surrounding race from his assertion that desegregation of the 1970's would lead to a "racial jungle" to an infamously callous interrogation of sexual harassment victim Anita Hill. Most recently, he was dragged online when he questioned the Blackness of anyone who wouldn't vote for him after being pressed on his commitment to the Black community.
Many Black voters simply wanted candidates to demonstrate loyalty toward and good intentions for their most loyal voting bloc. Demand this level of accountability alongside us.
While judging politicians on previous career moves may not be the most accurate litmus for future legislation, the days of not being able to critique politicians who rely on the Black vote are over. Everyone needs to be held accountable in the struggle to end systemic racism and that means the autonomy to challenge politicians who rely on the Black vote without delivering a Black agenda. Black women voters deserve that much.
5. Listen to Black women
It sounds cliche, but one of the best things allies can do is to simply listen. Black women usually know what they’re talking about and have been a compass of democratic progression time and time again — and with little reward.
Fair wages, healthcare and just legislation is a small thank you for the women who reliably show up in the country's darkest hours.