Southern Rural Black Women Are Using Political Power to Transform the Southern Narrative
~Don’t just say thank you to a black woman. Do better, be better, Alabama~
The righteous have spoken in Alabama as the world watched in election speculation. Black southern rural women in the poorest counties in the state turned out in high numbers to support Doug Jones to the United States Senate. This was done not to save white America but to generate political power and to give space to the voice of southern women in the narrative of change. According to exit polls, approximately 97% of black women voted for Doug Jones. Counties in the BlackBelt of a red state slightly turned slightly purple. Perry County and Dallas County, areas plagued with poverty and a legacy of racism, turned history on its head.
The Righteous have Spoken in Alabama…Black Southern Rural Woman Power
Damn, everybody should hug a black woman from Alabama in the coming weeks. From one Southern rural woman to another: thank you, my sisters. Although the campaign Jones ran was not always one where we felt included or heard, we said no to Moore not to just save a state but to send a message to the world. Remarkably, the African American vote sealed the deal against a Roy Moore regimen. America now knows emphatically, Alabama does not stand for homophobia, legalistic, religious hand-churning, anti-black oppression, anti-semitic rhetoric, or alleged pedophilia. And, after the celebration and hugs, there will be talks toward a reconciliation of values, particularly among poor rural people who will stand against the marginalizing forces of white supremacy, misogyny, and patriarchy that have marred Alabama for decades.
In Alabama, you will not only find a rich culture of blue collar workers, but there are grassroots organizers in the Black Belt who are fighting every day for health and justice – groups like the Black Belt Citizens (BBC) in Uniontown, Alabama. The success of the Jones campaign and the power of social media spearheaded the efforts to align with southern rural woman to create a lasting legacy of change for future generations.
The great state of Alabama humbly stands on the shoulders of southern black rural woman!
The robocalls, text, and celebrity interviews are done; the leadership of the great state of Alabama humbly stands on the shoulders of southern black rural women as it always have. Now is the time to maintain the momentum and galvanize southern women’s rural power. In order to rid a state riddled with the shame of the past, black rural women of Alabama, along with rising young voters and millennials, will speak with their votes at polls throughout the state and stand for justice. Born and bred in the Black Belt, watching strong southern women become judges, council women, factory workers, and community organizers, I cut my teeth on the Alabama values of integrity and truth-telling. It’s integral for the issues that black people and black women care about to be thrusted to the forefront. Some of these issues are the following.
- Fair and safe labor for all women
- Wage and labor equity for all women
- Environmental Justice
- Proper Sanitation in rural areas
- Affordable Quality Child Care
- Affordable Access to Health Insurance
- Getting rid of Poverty and systemic racism
- Tax Reform for Poor and Middle Class
- More southern rural black women voices in media and government
- Getting rid of Crime and criminalization of the poor
- Housing and Transportation
- A working living wage
- And many more…
I will summon southern rural black women run to for office themselves – locally, statewide, and nationally. The facts are that they and always have in high numbers, making a difference and exacting local change. Senator Jones, listen to our issues and take them to the top of your agenda. We will hold you accountable. Southern rural black women, now is the time to continue to do what you have always done and that is speak loud and proud using our voices for change and creating a south we have imagined it to be. Yes, the world is watching, but, better yet, our youth and young women are depending on us to be the change.
In the words of my black rural southern grandmother: “if you want to see the world change ask a black woman. if you want a black woman to change the world, give her the power to vote. if you want to see that power transform a world, vote for her.” Alabamians just might be slightly awake and becoming engaged giving notice and gratitude to the black rural southern woman. This is only a beginning – one of many. There is so much more to do to move Alabama towards sustainable progress and dismantling of the Old South machine built on racism and misogyny. Let us all join southern rural women in shutting down everything that threatens to separate this state.
Salaam Green is a poet, author, social health activist, and speaker. She is the founder of the Literary Healing Arts Foundation, which promotes the healing power of words, and the 2016 Poet Laureate for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.