Another trip around the sun has come and gone, and nearly everyone I know is happy to see the tail-end of 2017. Between hurricanes and the shitstorm that has been the first full year of the Donald Trump administration, I was only able to make a list of about three things I could say were high points of the year.
But now the slate is clean, and we have a mid-term coming up soon — sooner than you probably think. In case you’re not keeping up with the calendar, our Secretary of State has a handy list of dates you might want to mark on that calendar your aunt gave you for Christmas.
That’s the nuts-and-bolts of the process, though, and I’m throwing it up there to avoid another 2016 when millions of people confused their inability to properly register and participate in primaries and elections with nefarious rigging. Knowing HOW to vote is just one part of the process. Know WHO or WHAT to vote for is the really important thing. If you’re confused on your choice, I’ll give you one simple trick: Ask a black woman.
It’s an often repeated statistic that a majority of white women went for Donald Trump in 2016, to say nothing of the majority of white men he claimed. I’m pretty damn bitter that so many of my race either cannot recognize obvious incompetence or evil or feel it’s worth it as long as they get to troll liberals and work out their mother issues on our first female candidate.
You know what bothers me the most, though, here in a supposedly more evolved 2017? How small the majority was. For white women, it was basically a coin toss, and even white men only went 63 percent. That implies that a lot of white voters agonized over their choice, and when one choice is basically what would happen if Benito Mussolini was also the Earth-bound avatar of the Dunning-Kruger effect, that’s bloody terrifying.
That level of political wishy-washiness is simply not present in the vast majority of black women voters. Virtually all of them voted against Trump (94 percent). Black voters, and especially black women, are also the reason Alabama didn’t elect a constantly-armed, racist AF, child-molesting, twice-disbarred judge to represent them in the Senate this past year. They were so effective that the current conspiracy theory is that blacks were bussed in the thousands from Alabama to cast fake ballots, proving a lot of white people are also terrible at knowing how busses, voting, and not being bigoted dipshits work.
In Houston, I long ago decided that I would take my voting precedents from Monica Roberts. As a black, trans woman and activist, she’s the most plugged-in person I have ever met and can always be relied upon to give you the other side of an equation. When I was debating whether Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders should get my vote in the Texas primary, it was Roberts’ learned opinion that clinched my final decision. I’ve never regretted that.
It’s not to say that white voters and male voters have nothing but wrong opinions here. Tens of millions of both were able to soldier on in the name of peace and sanity. If you’re a well-meaning person itching to comment some variation of #NotAll, rest assured I and every sane person reading this already knows.
That said, the answers to the future simply do not reside in gatherings of white people. No matter how progressive a group you may find yourself in, it will always provide a shield for ideas that simply don’t consider marginalized people. It may be unintentional — it might even be well-meaning — but it will also be unchallenged from a very significant direction.
Institutionalized sexism and racism means that too often the voices of black women are something the rest of us have to seek out rather than have present in our media feed. It’s a flaw in our perception of the world that needs active, conscious correction. I’m not comfortable assigning the task of saving white people from themselves to black women, who already have a pretty full plate in the world. However, this November and all the Novembers to come, it is worth hearing the words and ideas of people who consistently come down in huge percentages on politicians and policies that do the most good.
Much of what has happened here in the last year can be undone. If you seriously want to see that happen, open your ears and eyes to what the single most consistent demographic for positive change has to say. Ask a black woman who to vote for. Your country will thank you for it.
Oh, and just a thought. If you need leads, here are some of the ones I find to be the best. Luvvie Ajayi, Ijeoma Oluo, Joy-Ann Reid, the fine people at Higher Heights for America, and Dr. Brittney Cooper. If you’re really serious, try a monthly subscription to Safety Pin Box (there’s a kids one!). Get outside your box, and you won’t regret it.