The Crusader Newspaper Group

OPINION: Black women need real change, not just thanks

By La’Tasha D. Mayes (Executive Director, New Voices for Reproductive Justice)

After Roy Moore’s defeat at the hands of Alabama voters—driven by Black voter turnout, especially the votes of Black women—we saw the celebration, credit-taking, and meaning-making that usually accompanies a progressive electoral victory. But one thing was different this time. This time, mainstream media and social media feeds flooded with messages acknowledging and thanking Black women for our role in the outcome.

Welcome to the reality Black women have known about—and named—for decades.

One of the hashtags that took off amid the Alabama election returns and the following days was #TrustBlackWomen. But what does it mean to trust Black women? What does it mean to advance a policy agenda that addresses the issues Black women face in this country?

Black women voters are not a monolith—we’re diverse, complex, and deeply engaged in national, state, and local policy debates. We don’t all agree. But there is a set of values and policies that most Black women hold close to our hearts: we want a future where we can live with respect, health, and justice. Where we can decide whether and when to have children, and raise those children without fear of hunger, violence, or discrimination. Where we can realize our dreams and highest human potential.

For a start, I hope that this election can finally put to rest the ludicrous question of whether a progressive agenda must include support for abortion access. (Yes, absolutely it must.) Not only are Black women overwhelmingly supportive of abortion access, but nationwide, keeping abortion legal has the highest levels of support in decades. Being able to make our own decisions about our bodies, pregnancy, and parenting is crucial to Black women’s dignity and self-determination.

Black women are already leading the way in reproductive health, rights, and justice policy. In 2015, after decades of work by Black women advocates, Representative Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) led the introduction of the EACH Woman Act to repeal the Hyde Amendment’s Reign of Terror on poor women, and the bill today has 128 co-sponsors in the House, even in this incredibly hostile political moment.


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