Black Women Brought the Votes to Put Dem Men in Office, but They Won’t Vote to Put Us in Leadership

44 Years of Black women working to support Democratic leaders, but rarely called to lead

Photo by Library of Congress on Unsplash

1977 Shirley Chisolm was the last Black woman elected to a congressional leadership position in the Democratic Party.

When Democratic Rep. Brenda Lawrence lost her leadership race by a single vote, she looked up the last time a Black woman was elected to sit at her party’s leadership table in the House.

She was stunned to learn it was Rep. Shirley Chisholm of New York — 44 years ago. Politico, by Sarah Ferris and Heather Caygle.

According to Women In Congress archives, Rep. Chisholm served as the secretary of the House Democratic Caucus for four years and there hasn’t been another Black woman elected to a leadership position since.

How can this be considering it was Black and Brown women who helped Biden and Harris win this historic election and then tipped the 116th Congress in the Democrats’ favor with the Georgia flip? Democrats, “Dem men” — to be specific — where is the love, dedication, and most importantly the votes Black women have given you to secure your seats even when our own seats were stolen?

So, Black women are good enough to do the hard work and heavy lifting to bring votes, but not good enough to get a helping hand or a vote of confidence? Got it…

It’s bad enough that we lost the only Black woman in the Senate when Gavin Newsom gave Vice President Kamala Harris’ Senate seat to a man, now we’re going into our 44th year without a Black woman in any Democratic leadership role in congress? So, Black women are good enough to do the hard work and heavy lifting to bring votes, but not good enough to get a helping hand or a vote of confidence? Got it…

This is shameful considering how hard Black women have worked and continue to work to support and push our country’s democracy and the Democratic Party forward. Black and South Asian women can rejoice in having Vice President Harris, but we lost all representation in the Senate. Her victory is a giant leap forward and the continuation of four decades of Black women working with no positions of power.

We dishonor and insult the hard work of Black women in politics like Stacey Abrams, LaTosha Brown, and the many others who helped flip Georgia and the United States Senate — with predominately male candidates.

This is a case of men shutting Black women out of leadership roles and it needs to change not next year or next cycle — but right now! A thumbs-up and “good job” ain’t gonna cut it anymore. We want our seat at the table!

How can there be 11 leadership positions in the House and the Senate and in 44 years, not one Black woman earned enough votes to win party chair, secretary, or speaker?

This is unfathomable because it’s not a matter of qualifications, work ethic, or ethics. Nor is it a matter of Black women not running, they have, but they’re striking out. This is a case of men shutting Black women out and it needs to change not next year or next cycle — but right now! A thumbs-up and “good job” ain’t gonna cut it anymore. We want our seat at the table!

#44Years too late and too long to wait

To paraphrase Roland Martin, this is an easy fix. First, Congressional allies of every gender and race must take a stand with the Congressional Black Caucus and stand up for Black women and block any bill until this shameful wrong is acknowledged, addressed, and made right.

The biased and toxic culture created by the good ol’ boys and their silent, complicit sisters needs to end today!

Equally as important, Congress needs to address the rampant, “weaponized” sexism and misogyny that too many Black congresswomen like Maxine Waters and other women of color endure like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from male congressmen and the media. The biased and toxic culture created by the good ol’ boys and their silent, complicit sisters needs to end today!

Black men need to take the lead and fight for Black women — like Black women fight for them. This isn’t just about politics — this about reciprocity, representation, and solidarity.

What can we do?

  1. Make this a press priority: Ask every male member of Congress why hasn’t there been a Black woman in a leadership role in 44 years? I’m not just talking about Black journalists, I’m talking about all journalists making this a priority on mainstream media.
  2. Contact every male member of the National Black Caucus and the Democratic Party and demand they stand and fight for Black women to be voted into a current or new leadership position:

In honor of our newly elected Black and South Asian Vice President — do better and put Black women in Democratic leadership roles. Notice I didn’t say one role — we don’t need to be tokenized, or serve as symbolic inclusion. Vote Black women into multiple roles — not only because Black women deserve it — but because Black women will bring a level of leadership, integrity, and courage that obviously has been lacking for 44 years!

Don’t just use Black women to work for the vote — give them the votes needed to lead!

#RespectBlackWomen

#LetBlackWomenLead

Thank you for reading and shoutout to Charlotte Zobeir Ali for starting this conversation.

Writer, Co-founder of Writers and Editors of Color #WEOC, Bylines in Zora, Momentum, An Injustice!, POM, Illumination, The Pink, and Better Marketing

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