For far too long, Black women have been doing the heavy lifting in this country. And as we keep seeing, that isn’t going to change anytime soon. People can’t continue to follow the line of thinking that Black women will automatically do the work. It’s not fair to us to always be the ones who save the day. Especially when we still don’t truly reap the benefits of what we sow. After so many years of being the ones who hold this country together, we’re tired. Stop expecting Black women to save the country all the time. You only seem to celebrate us when we do something that improves your lives.
Since the Georgia runoff election, there has been a lot of talk about Stacey Abrams and what the role she played in the win. Stacey Abrams has been working her ass off for Georgia since 2011 when she became the minority leader for the Georgia state house. Until 2018, she worked in silence, organizing to make Georgia a formidable battleground state. One that people would actually take seriously. But then she famously lost the election for Georgia governor in 2018. Voter suppression is often cited as the only reason she lost, which makes sense. But her loss spurred her into her next actionable steps — founding Fair Fight, a group that works to fight voter suppression, among other things. She’s the face of the movement that helped flip Georgia blue for the first time since 1992.
Make no mistake, Stacey Abrams is a fucking political legend. She is fighting tooth and nail to make sure that not only her state, but other battleground states have the tools they need to be taken seriously. All the work she’s doing isn’t for her to prove anything about her ability as a politician. It’s because she knows what the right thing is, and she’s getting it done. Like many Black women, she’s taking her mistreatment and turning it into action. By taking on a completely broken system, she’s making sure that what happened to her won’t happen to anyone else. That’s what got both Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff elected to the Senate. At this point, Stacey Abrams may not want to run for political office anymore. But she’s fighting for others to have a fair shot, an option that wasn’t available to her.
If you look at the breakdowns of how different races vote, Black women will overwhelmingly vote for the Democratic candidate. Not always because they fully agree with their platform, but because we know that within a two-party system, those candidates are the best chance we have. As a voter group, we’re nothing if not loyal. And we know that we’re not on the minds of most elected officials. Unless they’re also Black women, because we’re the only ones who have our backs. So, we’re ultimately voting with everyone’s best interest at heart.
On the other hand, there are far too many white women who vote Republican. Even though the soon-to-be former president has made it clear he’s a misogynist, these women came out with the quickness to vote for him. Not once, but twice. Because while Black women vote with the greater good in mind, white women vote for (and center) themselves. And they prove that time and time again. At the end of the day, protecting their whiteness will always win out over anything else.
Those white women who are more progressive still often refuse to see the shortcomings of their fellow white women. But they will turn their ire and hostility on Black women in a heartbeat if we don’t do what they want. So they won’t hold their own people accountable, but they still expect us to be the ones to save the day every time. It’s the ultimate hypocrisy. White women will be on social media like “Yess Stacey Abrams! Queen!” but don’t do anything to actually support her and the work she’s doing. They won’t even have uncomfortable conversations with other white women about being Trump supporters.
The thing is, this doesn’t just happen in politics. Anywhere there’s a Black woman who has a modicum of success or notoriety, there are white women who hold them to a higher standard. Look at Lizzo. Because she’s a Black woman who loves herself and accepts her body, she suddenly became the poster child for the body positivity movement. Even though she never asked for that position. But suddenly white women proclaimed her as their savior. The one to free them from their own body shame. And then, when she did something (a juice cleanse) that they perceived to be against the movement, many of them harassed and demeaned her. Seeing white women turn against her because she did something they deemed unacceptable was just business as usual for many Black women, but that doesn’t make it okay.
And I’ve seen it in my own circles too, how much white women rely on Black women. They expect us to coddle them, educate them and be there for them. As a Black woman who moves through spaces largely inhabited by white women, I know this behavior intimately. I’m a Black woman with a platform and interest in making my spaces more intersectional. So I’m often called upon by white friends to answer questions. I’ve had friends message me to help them through their learning about racial inequity countless times. Usually I’m happy to help friends learn something they never had to think about before. I don’t see it as a burden, because I understand how important that learning is.
That being said, there are limits to what white women should expect from their friends who are Black women. If you only want to talk to us about current events, that tells us a lot. And if you only want to check in on us after something bad happens, that tells us a lot too. Maintaining friendships as adults is hard enough. But it’s even harder when you have to wonder if your friends are only using you because of your race. No Black woman has any desire to be a white woman’s token.
Here’s the thing. Black women are always going to fight for the greater good. But standing up for ourselves and what’s right comes at a cost. When we put ourselves out there, people aren’t going to like it and that can put us at risk of bodily harm, job loss and more. People call us “difficult,” “uppity,” “troublemakers,” and more. But we continue the fight, because we know no one else will — and it’s past time that white women step up and shoulder some of that burden. You want to “yes queen” us, but you won’t stand next to us and fight, and we see you.
Black women aren’t superheroes, contrary to what white women may believe. We’re not here to be your “queens” or “icons,” or whatever you want to call us. You can’t make us your saviors and hold us to your impossible standards. Start doing the work for yourself, and stop expecting us to save your asses every time.
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