Thanks are OK, but hook a sistah up

12/22/2017, 4:43 p.m.
U.S. Sen.-elect Doug Jones, a Democrat from Alabama, did not have to win his battle against accused sexual molester and ...
Julianne Malveaux

Julianne Malveaux

U.S. Sen.-elect Doug Jones, a Democrat from Alabama, did not have to win his battle against accused sexual molester and Republican candidate Roy Moore in the epic battle in Alabama on Dec. 12. 

He won because young people, some white women (most white women voted for Mr. Moore) and an amazing effort from African-Americans put him over the top. Some white folks crossed party lines for the first time, voting for Mr. Jones because Mr. Moore repulsed them. 

Some analysts have especially noted that white moms were more likely than other white women to vote for Mr. Jones. But black folks showed up and showed out — a larger percentage of African-American voters participated in this election than in the 2012 election of President Obama. 

And 98 percent of African-American women voted for Mr. Jones, along with 94 percent of black men. Among white voters, 27 percent of white men voted for Mr. Jones, along with 35 percent of white women.

In cyberspace, people on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are thanking black women for their support of Mr. Jones. A friend told me that a woman she had not seen in a decade called her to thank black women for saving the U.S. Senate from the likes of Mr. Moore. 

Everyone likes to be thanked, but black women deserve more than thanks. We deserve the “hookup” — the connection, organizational, institutional and financial support for our efforts.

Black women’s organizations in Alabama should get immediate contributions from the Democratic Party. Indeed, some of the sisters who led the effort to get the vote out, like Democratic Congresswoman Terri Sewell of Alabama, need to be consulted on how to effectively support black women in Alabama. 

The Democratic Party ought to cultivate black women leaders in Alabama so that they are poised to run for other offices. And because Mr. Jones will have a short term and will be up for re-election in 2020, black women need to be deputized to immediately begin working on his re-election campaign.

The focus should not be just on black women in Alabama, but black women nationally. The white women around the country who cheered on black women now need to open their doors and embrace the Sojourner Truth observation that “Ain’t I A Woman.” Don’t these women think they can learn a thing or two from the amazing way black women organize, mobilize and step up?

White women are often in the unique position to hook black women up — in politics and in the workplace — but they don’t offer the hookup as often as they should because it is challenging for them to step outside their comfort zone and embrace diversity. But when folk step out of their comfort zone, look at the results. Thanks to black women, among others, Mr. Jones is the winner of a Senate contest.

I’m cognizant of the fact that black women weren’t the sole reason for his victory. It is especially exciting to see young people reject Mr. Moore. Millennials are far less partisan than their elders. You can’t say they cross party lines because many of them have no party affiliation. But like black women, throngs of young people in Alabama went to the polls to elect Mr. Jones. Their participation makes a strong case for generational inclusion when political strategies are being developed.

It is great to express gratitude, but it is even better to put your money where your mouth is. Those white folks who are thanking black women might also send a contribution to Higher Heights (www.higherheightsforamerica.org), a black women’s PAC named after Dr. Dorothy Irene Height. Or, folks can send contributions to the Black Women’s Roundtable (https://ncbcp.org/programs/bwr/policy), which is part of the National Coalition for Black Civic Participation.  

Black women have always had to assert our place in the mainstream, and we too often have been ignored by our natural allies. And yet we still come through in a crunch. 

The writer is an author and economist.