On November 7th, half of the country celebrated the victory of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice president-elect Kamala Harris. People in cities all over the nation rejoiced with victory bells, block parties, honking car horns, and sighs of relief that we had finally overcome the reign of Donald Trump, a man who for many symbolizes a hatred and divisiveness that the United States had never before seen.
In reality, the things we all hate about Donald Trump existed long before he was president—America was built on stolen land and by stolen labor. White supremacy is woven into the fifty stars and thirteen stripes that we’ve been led to believe as symbols of freedom and equality. This means that the things we hate about Donald Trump will also exist after his presidency is over—partially because the racists who he has invigorated with his harmful rhetoric are now more empowered and won’t be going into hiding just because a Democrat is president.
But more importantly because our political institutions inherently uphold white supremacy and thus won’t function without facilitating violence toward Black and poor people in this country.
The President who we have chosen is famous for his 1994 Crime bill, which increased funding to law enforcement agencies and exacerbated the incarceration of Black men. His vice president is known for placing more Black men and women in prison in California, and for the imprisonment of trans people. In a year when protests in defense of Black lives across the country called for defunding the police and abolition of prisons, it feels inappropriate that these are the people who we’ve chosen to lead us into the next four years. But what other choice did we have? President-elect Joe Biden asked for the forgiveness of Black voters throughout his campaign. His victory doesn’t indicate that he has received this forgiveness, but rather that people wanted to get rid of Donald Trump by any means necessary.
And now we have. So what next?
Black women are largely responsible for mobilizing voters in places like Georgia, which flipped blue for the first time in 28 years. Black women are arguably the most loyal voting bloc there is; along with encouraging voter turnout during campaign season, they are consistently blue. More than 90 percent of Black women voted for the Democratic candidate in the 2016, 2018, and 2020 elections. Many Black women have expressed the #VoteBlueNoMatterWho sentiment: the priority was getting Trump out, but they know more than anyone that white supremacy is not over now that he’s gone. “The work has only just begun,” many people posted in their celebratory Instagram captions.
So what should “the work” look like? What does “holding Biden accountable” mean—and what exactly are we holding him accountable to, since he said himself on Twitter “I campaigned as a proud Democrat, but I will govern as an American president?” The Democratic party wants us to believe that their values mean justice and equality for Black and brown people. But we know America is inherently opposed to this, so governing as an American means maintaining the systems that have harmed Black women for generations.
We know that we can’t rely on this administration for liberation. As 20-year-old activist KJ Brooks said to the Kansas city police in her viral video, “I’m not asking y’all for anything, ‘cause y’all can’t and won’t be both my savior and my oppressor.”
Black women have been each other’s saviors from the dawn of time. Moving into the next four years and beyond, we can save each other by engaging in the struggle. And what that means is supporting our queer and trans siblings. It means making activism a priority using our various strengths—getting out onto the streets for protests, writing articles, leading book clubs, starting mutual aid funds, offering physical and mental healing to our comrades, etc. This is using our individual strengths to aid the collective. It means supporting houseless Black women and sharing our money, food, and resources with them. It means not scrolling past Gofundme’s on Twitter and helping others pay their rent when we can. It means helping our sisters raise funds for medication, to leave abusive households, to raise their children.
The material interests of Black women are our priority. There are small, everyday things we can commit to doing that add up to monumental collective impact. When we say that “the work” of resisting this administration has just begun, we must demystify what “the work” means. All of the things that popular culture began to embrace during the point of the pandemic when Black resistance took center stage—donations, mutual aid, political education, collectivism—must continue.
It is true that nothing short of revolution can end white supremacy. But the thought of yourself as a revolutionary, as someone capable of burning oppressive systems to the ground, can be daunting.
Acknowledging that Black women are not protected or safe under this administration doesn’t mean that we all have to prepare for violent resistance by tomorrow morning. It means we do what we’ve always known how to do: build among each other, help meet each other’s material needs, and protect each other even when no one else will.