As a Black woman living in Florida, I’ve seen with my own eyes and felt with my own skin the Confederate, racist, and patriarchal mentality that is still very much alive in our country. As a mother, I live with the constant fear of my children growing up in a world that could and would kill them while walking home—for no reason other than the color of their skin. My religion teaches me to have faith, but we know that faith without work is folly. We also know that two things are certain about Black women: We work hard and we fight harder.
Historically, Black women have borne the brunt of the injustices stemming from social and economic structures, but nevertheless we relentlessly persevere. That is why, as a community leader, I get up each and every day and put my faith in the Black women who can—and will—change the world.
Now, it’s time for our national leaders to do so as well. It’s time for our leaders to put their faith in the Black women who will continue to pave the righteous path of progress. It’s time for Joe Biden to choose a Black woman as his vice president.
I could talk about specific campaign strategies or enticing policy proposals that the Biden camp should consider, but the reality is that there is not a more consequential nor talked-about decision in a presidential campaign than the selection of a running mate. Given everything that is happening in our political environment right now, we need a vice presidential candidate with a first-hand understanding of the systemic racism that is so deeply woven into the fabric of our country. We need someone who will invigorate, inspire, and turn out the Democratic Party’s most important yet least appreciated voting bloc on Tuesday, November 3. Someone strong, who has faced and triumphed over adversity. We need someone who represents the electorate. We need a Black woman.
Since the turn of the century, Florida has been the state to watch when it comes to presidential elections. In 2000, all eyes were on the Sunshine State as it was subjected to an extensive vote recount as well as a divisive Supreme Court case, Bush v. Gore, which ultimately put George W. Bush in the Oval Office. President Barack Obama is the only Democrat to have won the state’s electoral votes since Bill Clinton’s 1996 reelection. In 2016, President Trump managed to squeeze by with a victory of just 1.2 points. And in 2018, the first Black gubernatorial candidate in the history of Florida, Andrew Gillum, lost to the Republican, Ron DeSantis, by less than one percent.
Despite the tight wins and slim losses, Black women consistently show up and turn out on election day, ranking among one of the most active voting blocs. Even with the 2016 election yielding a lower turnout than the two previous presidential elections, more than 90 percent of Black female voters cast their ballot for Hillary Clinton. And again, in the 2018 midterms, 92 percent of Black women who voted turned out for Democrats. If Trump loses Florida in 2020, it would not only puncture his pathologically inflated ego, but also obliterate his chances for reelection. However, for Joe Biden to win, he needs Florida’s Black voters. Specifically, he needs Black women to turn out in spectacular fashion.
Over the past two months, Black Lives Matter has become one of the most influential movements in American history. Across the country, millions of people have taken to the streets to demand change to our country’s broken system. This mass mobilization has proven that there is a yearning for Black voices to be heard, to advocate for change, and to make this country a compassionate and inclusive space for all—which is why putting a Black woman at the top of the ticket is absolutely imperative.
Seeing a Black woman’s name on the ballot for vice president and envisioning her serving in the White House is surreal for many of us, including myself. Although symbolism alone will mobilize a significant amount of Black voters to the polls, we want the country to know that she is not simply a token—we mean business. We want having a Black woman at the top of the ticket to be a clear indicator that the blatant enabling of racism, inequity, and injustice we’ve endured from the current administration will no longer have a place in this country. We also need someone that we can trust to hold Biden accountable to the base who will ultimately determine his victory.
At a time when so many people are angry with the status quo and feel left out of our nation’s political processes, it is crucial to bring them in and promise to find meaningful solutions to these centuries-old problems. This can’t be effectively done without representation on the ticket. Uprooting the systemic racism that is the foundation of America cannot be done without the voice of someone who has been subjected to that very racism. Having a Black woman on the ticket is the best way to ensure our concerns are fought for in earnest, and that we are on a path to truly realizing the democratic promise of this country.