For those of us under, say, the age of 40, Saturday’s election results may not have been quite as momentous as they were for those of us getting up there age-wise. I’ve watched my relatives in their teens, 20s and 30s as they’ve grown up, and their experience of diversity and inclusiveness is a lot different than mine was.
Having friends who are multiple skin tones, are queer, possess various levels of able-ness, deal with difficult family health circumstances (or whatever else “minorities” face) is not such a big deal for a lot of these young’uns. They’re incensed when their friends are underrepresented, and the youth of our nation have been real leaders in the fight against racial injustice, climate disaster, school shootings, and sexism, misogyny, and trans/homophobia. Just under sixty million youth in the U.S. are ages 10 – 24. That’s nearly 20% of the population, and they are the ones who will be called on in the future to fix a lot of messes recently created. Those who were able to vote in this year’s election did so in huge numbers, and I am so grateful to them.
I’m also grateful to voters of color. I predict that the final tallies, particularly from Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, will show us that people of color made all the difference and were responsible for ultimately putting Democrats over the finish line. And what a long and winding road it’s been!
After the Civil War, the 15th Amendment “gave” African American men the right to vote in 1870, but Black women were still disenfranchised. In actuality, the men were, too. Reconstruction didn’t last long nor did it reconstruct much for either the poor or people of color. So after a brief period of hope, by the late 1870s the campaign to vigorously disallow Black voting was in full swing and lasted for about 100 years after. The poor, Native Americans, Asians, Latinos, and those of mixed race were also deterred from voting.
When we think about it, the 19th Amendment that “gave” women the right to vote under the Constitution only went into force in 1920. Women have only been voting for the last 100 years . . . but that’s mostly been white women. Why? Because just like the 15th Amendment, the 19th Amendment did not get rid of state laws that kept Black Americans (and pretty much all people of color) from the polls. Between literacy tests, poll taxes, and overt violence, most people of color of all genders, ages, and residential location in the U.S. were effectively discouraged from attempting to vote. Not until the late 1960s did the U.S. start seeing Black citizens at the polls in gradually increasing numbers, and that was mostly because of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which actually took many years to make real inroads on behalf of communities of color. The road was long and wearying.
Now what do we see? Black people, particularly Black women, along with Asians, Latinos, Native Americans, and voters of various other ethnicities voting for change in 2020. While 57% of white men and women voted for the current occupant, only 42% of whites voted for Biden and my new heroine, VP-elect Kamala Harris. (See the national exit poll cited by the BBC that I inserted at the bottom if you aren’t sure whether to believe me.) Clearly non-white voters made the difference.
I am amazed and overwhelmed with joy that a woman—-a super-intelligent, caring, bi-racial, innovating person with so much energy—-is our new Vice President-elect. Thank you, Voters! Thank you, Joe Biden. Truly, we need Joe’s experience and Kamala’s energy more than ever before.
Trailblazer Shirley Chisholm would be so proud! At long last, her thwarted ambitions for higher office have been achieved for the first time by a woman of color. (Chisholm was the first Black major-party candidate to run for President in 1972 and also the first woman ever to run for the Democratic Party’s nomination.) When I was in junior high, I followed U.S. Representative Chisholm as she fought the good fight in office from 1969-1983. She was a force of nature. In fact, you can read her biography which is called THE GOOD FIGHT. She also wrote a terrific book, UNBOUGHT & UNBOSSED, which I highly recommend. Shirley’s account of her unprecedented rise from young girl in Brooklyn NY to America’s first African-American Congresswoman is the stuff that real heroes are made of.
Geraldine Ferraro would also be proud. She was the first Democratic party VP nominee (with Presidential nominee Walter Mondale, 1984), though they didn’t win.
Hillary Clinton (2016 Democratic candidate for President) has to be absolutely delighted that her dear friends, Joe & Jill Biden, are going back to the White House along with Kamala and Doug.
I look forward to subsequent elections when Kamala Harris can continue her meteoric rise directly into the presidency when Joe’s done. Why not? It’s time!
It’s been SUCH a long time coming. I’ve felt so much despair and apprehension for the last four years as I’ve seen our government decimated, allies disrespected, laws broken, corruption running rampant, and people left bereft and hurting. But hope is returning, and the relief is strong.
Together we will rise–in fact, we have risen! Let’s keep it up!