As a white woman, I’ve been asked no fewer than 30 times when I’m going to run for public office. While I’m flattered that people see leadership qualities in me, I always answer the same: I’m not the person we need.
The people we need are Black women. Latinx women. Native American women. Asian women. LGBTQ+ people. Women with disabilities. Non-Christian women.
And while many people will nod in agreement as I say these things, when it comes down to it, we’re still a long way from making sure that our elected officials are even more diverse than our population.
Yes– I said it– MORE diverse than our population. [Dons helmet and goggles]
Because diversity demands consensus building, Diversity demands listening. Turn taking.
What if the solution to our current political impasses, our polarization, didn’t depend on convincing white people to treat everyone else with dignity? How would that change the calculus of what we can accomplish?
I’m honestly tired of hearing “well meaning” white people (even women) say that they’re “not sure people will vote for a woman” for Governor, for President. Some of us are so afraid of losing, that we also won’t win.
Think about all the hand-wringing postmortems on the Doug Jones Senate election in Alabama. How many white liberal women were embarrassingly falling all over themselves to thank Black women voters for saving us from ourselves?
Understandably, black women have had it with white people. Yes, even (or maybe especially) white women. With our savior complexes and our yes, but…s. They’ve realized that unless white people commit to dismantling our own white privilege, their (and our) lot will remain the same.
Given all the social advances and years since the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, Black women are still earning only 61 cents to every white male dollar. In many cases, below the appearance of more equity, we are more aware of systemic inequality and yet still completely inept at dismantling it.
I long for the day when I don’t have to say if white men write the laws, everyone who isn’t a white male will suffer. But in order for me to not have to say it, it has to become patently false. And we’re a long way from that being a reality.
In the years to come, we have enormous challenges facing us in the United States, and the world over. Global climate change will cause not just environmental crises, but humanitarian crises that no one on earth will be able to just “sit out.”
We’ve already seen what the entrenched interests will do: they’re doing it now. The wealthy will choose to protect their wealth. Because they realize that without their wealth, they’re just as vulnerable as the rest of us. They should be fearful of losing their wealth– deep down they know that it’s not a product of hard work or something that can be re-built because wealth is a product of a system that is engineered to reward white males. Luck favors the white male. Without the ability to rig the system, the system will not reward them.
The reason so many evangelical Christians are afraid of LGBTQ+ folks? Because the demise of heteronormative masculinity will lead to a loss of their white, patriarchal dominance.
The fastest way to change the decisions that are made is to change who is making the decisions. You know who isn’t fearful of standing up to white men? Black women. You know who started the Stonewall riots? A Black trans woman.
You can’t expect change if you don’t want to disrupt power. If you fear disruption more than you fear what’s currently happening, apparently things haven’t gotten bad enough for you yet. Just wait. It will get worse.
The choice is clear: get on board, get behind Black women. They’ve been doing so much with so little for so long, imagine what they could do with our support? Our money? Our privilege? What would happen if we took a step back, said we trust you, and asked what they wanted from us in terms of support. AND THEN WE DID IT.
What if we unequivocally believed in and championed Black women? We would make change. But we have to be unafraid of the change– because the status quo is unbearable. White men have broken this country. Their time is over. A new day has arrived. We are making it so.