In more ways than one, Black women altered the course of the 2020 general election by shouldering much of the work to put Biden in office. 91% of Black women voters voted for Biden, according to CNBC, and Black women also led Get out the Vote efforts in key states.
Take Georgia, for example. For the first time since 1992, the state voted for a Democrat in the presidential election.
Much of the credit goes to local level, grassroots organizing. Since its founding in 2018, Stacey Abrams’s Georgia-based anti-voter suppression organization, Fair Fight, has led GOTV campaigns contributing to the registration of more than 800,000 new voters statewide.
Another state key to Biden’s victory was Pennsylvania. Like with Georgia, many observers have attributed Biden’s success to the Black women who led local organizations focused on increasing Democratic voter turnout.
Since its founding in 2018, Stacey Abrams’s Georgia-based anti-voter suppression organization, Fair Fight, has led GOTV campaigns contributing to the registration of more than 800,000 new voters statewide.
Given the sacrifices of these women of color to sideline their own lives to advocate, phone bank, knock on doors, and protest for Biden, Biden must deliver on his campaign promises upon inauguration.
Among those promises, president-elect Biden committed to forming a White House Council on Gender Equality while also combatting violence against transgender women of color. Under Biden’s Department of Justice, prosecuting their murders will become a priority and receive increased federal funding. Additionally, for a short term solution to more comprehensive immigration reform, he has committed to implementing new safeguards for female migrants detained in U.S. custody. This looks like legal protections against abuse and assault, access to feminine products and reproductive health care, and a ban against the shackling of pregnant women.
“I think I just cried,” Sajal Sanan said when she first realized that Biden would win the 2020 election. Sanan is the director of the Greeks Take Action initiative, which launched in 2016 in partnership with the UW Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Activists (SARVA) and the UW Peer Health Educators (PHE).
As a woman of color herself, Sanan felt deeply connected to the other women of color that she saw in the audience at Biden’s victory speech. Sanan felt that they shared many of the same hardships and struggles but also the same sense of relief.
But after Biden received a great deal of support throughout his campaign from marginalized communities, Sanan wants to see concrete action.
“[Marginalized communities] are tired of being neglected,” Sanan said. ”It is up to the Biden/Harris ticket to ensure these communities … are given the same respect as their Caucasian neighbors.”
The lack of legal protections for women of color is an example of this neglect. Intimate personal violence (IPV) disproportionately affects women of color — 29.1% of Black women will become victims of rape, physical assault, or stalking during their life.
While the Obama-Biden administration created a White House Council for Women and Girls, the Trump administration disbanded it in 2017.
Biden’s promise towards creating a White House Council on Gender Equality will develop policies that address racial justice and gender based violence like IPV.
To hold this administration accountable to the marginalized communities that helped deliver Biden’s win, University of Washington professor of communication Ralina Joseph suggests watching the money.
Biden’s budget reports will reflect whether his administration is prioritizing funding for programs seeking to make the U.S. education system more equitable and the criminal legal system more just, according to Joseph.
“[These are] the changes that make a difference in the lives of Black and brown folks,” Joseph said.
Moreover, anyone with access to the internet can study the legislation proposed by the new administration and harness social media to call for changes when they fall short.
“[Through social media], large groups of people are understanding in an accessible way when racism, misogyny, homophobia are hidden in these policies,” said Joseph.
As a result, Biden might be held to a higher standard with his every move being watched, tweeted, posted, and reshared during his term.
“We were all the ones who put you in office, and we expect for you to take care of all of us,” Joseph said.
Speaking directly to people of color, Biden said in his victory speech that “you’ve always had my back, and I’ll have yours.”
This is a weighty promise. To hear those assurances come out of the president-elect’s mouth after four years of the Trump administration’s public, unabashed racism and bigotry is a relief. Now it’s a matter of turning those words into action for the women of color who put him in office.
“There is a chance to grow and become educated by your mistakes,” Sanan said. “As long as they [the Biden administration] are willing to make this country a safer place for minority and marginalized populations, I’m very happy about that.”
Last updated 12/18/2020
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