Black Folks are About Tired of Having to Save the Rest of America from Itself.
I woke up this morning and texted both of my children, who are back home in D.C. visiting their dad and grandparents today. I put on my Morehouse sweatshirt, and every one of my personal and professional social media networks got a variation of the same message I sent my children in a screenshot tweet. A Morehouse Man is on his way to the U.S. Senate, thanks largely to the efforts of his Spelman sister. Morehouse Man. Pastor of Daddy King’s church. John Lewis’s former pastor. Is the first Black Senator from Georgia. Pushed over the top by Lewis’s former district. (Word to Fisk, too.)
A few months ago, just before the General Election, my daughter asked me if only the best and brightest Black kids get to go to HBCUs. Without hesitation, I told her that, in fact, yes they do. In reality, thought, I remember my dad and others trying to talk me out of my decision to attend CAU, because they thought I was too smart, and my test scores were too high. So to hear my daughter ask this question because all of her “aunties” and “uncles” are HBCU alumni, and they’re all out here killing it in every area of work and society, was the sweetest form of vindication.
My 2021 planner has daily self-care and gratitude prompts; as I sat down to start working this morning, I scribbled on the “I’m grateful for…” lines: “HBCUs. Especially, specifically, the AUC.” And then I got to work, even more empowered (and probably even more obnoxious) about my ability to accomplish anything, to “find a way or make one,” to change the world. Or at least make it a little bit better for people who look like me in a country that has continued to deny our humanity.
Right after the election, I wrote an article for The Grio about how it felt to be a Black woman and an HBCU alumna in the time Kamala Harris was ascending to the vice presidency with a boost from Stacey Abrams.
“Black women have been saving U.S. politics, specifically the Democratic Party, for years with little more than empty promises to show for it. And while I know one woman can’t save the world, I couldn’t be more proud to be raising a Black daughter who was born the year we elected our first Black president and who, with her brother, is going to grow up in a world where it’s normal to see Black women and men who attended Black colleges and universities in the highest positions in the land.”
But as with a lot of things in this country, Black folks’ jubilee is almost always cut short by a reminder that this country and its systems — including its democracy — are founded on white supremacy. And even as progress is made and celebrated, the need for some to preserve whiteness above all else resounds loud and wrong — today reverberating through the halls of a U.S. Capitol building that is newly home to a historically diverse and representative 117th Congress.
Most Americans were not even aware that Congress must certify the votes they cast in the election before the new president-elect can actually be sworn in. Many are getting a front row seat to all of the civic processes that actually go into an election, which were never taught in our high school social studies classes. Today, though, we’re all suddenly aware this step in the process exists, as we watch white supremacists who were ACTIVATED AND ARE SUPPORTED BY THE CURRENT SITTING U.S. PRESIDENT (!!) storm the U.S. Capitol in a terrorist insurrection.
I’ve seen every single person I know, across every single platform, express outrage over how differently these events would have unfolded if Black or Brown people had taken to the Capitol to protest their continued mistreatment in this country. But when the assailants who literally forced an evacuation of the U.S. Capitol building by sitting Members of Congress (!!) are white, and protesting the unseating of their president, there’s a glaring lack of action from federal law enforcement. The president used tear gas and rubber bullets to clear the street in front of the White House during Black Lives Matter protests over the summer so that he could take a photo in front of a church. But when the structures of democracy are under siege, the Department of Defense denied D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s request for more National Guardsmen.
I said it in November, and I’ll say it again: America is exactly who and what Black people have been saying it is. And we’re tired of having to save the rest of the country from itself. Especially since we’re still in the streets, literally, begging for our lives.