Open Letter: Don’t Disrespect Black Women Being Considered for Vice President

I’m not sure which reporters are the targets of this open letter, but here is a reminder to treat the people being considered for the vice presidential spot on the Democratic Party ticket with respect. Although as a Philadelphian I reserve the right to boo anyone I goddam choose, I do wholeheartedly agree that there are very many excellent professional Black Women in public service. Reminder, I can boo and cheer the same person during the same contest. Before, during, and after booing, I can regard the target of my boos as an all time great and future Hall of Famer. So, I am not condemning criticism. Any one chosen to be on the ticket deserves the same respect (and same criticism) granted to any other candidate on a major party ticket

All of these professional women should be praised and criticized for their records, not as a “… happy, Black servant portrayed as a happy domestic worker loyal to her White employer.” I don’t know which reporters made those allusions, so if you do, please alert me in the comments.

Here is the text of the open letter being circulated through the Action Network. At the time of my post, it has 977 signatures.

OPEN LETTER BY BLACK WOMEN LEADERS IN RESPONSE TO THE NARRATIVE SURROUNDING BLACK WOMEN NOMINEES FOR VICE PRESIDENT

Black women are many things. We are business executives, political strategists and elected officials, philanthropists, and activists. We are health and wellness practitioners. We are entertainers and faith leaders. We are wives, mothers, daughters, educators, and students. We set and shift culture. We build power and we are powerful.

We are the highest propensity voters in this nation. We are a coalition of Black women leaders, who, in this inflection point of the Black liberation movement, where people around the world are galvanized to action, know that the time for Black women in the United States is now.

Over the past few months in the media, we have witnessed many Black women put forth as potential Vice Presidential candidates including former Gubernatorial Candidate Stacey Abrams, Congresswoman Karen Bass, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Senator Kamala Harris, Congresswoman Val Demings, and former US Ambassador Susan Rice, be publicly critiqued. We have also watched many of these highly-credentialed women be disrespected in the media over the last few weeks.

Regardless of your political affiliation, whether it’s the media, members of the vice presidential vetting committee, a former Governor, a top political donor, or a small town mayor: We are not your Aunt Jemimas. The use of the racist myth of a happy, Black servant portrayed as a happy domestic worker loyal to her White employer is not lost on us. While some of the relentless attacks on Black women and our leadership abilities have been more suggestive than others, make no mistake–we are qualified and ambitious without remorse.

We are servant leaders — motivated by a desire to uplift and advance our communities and nation. And we will not tolerate racist or sexist tropes consistently utilized in an effort to undermine our power. No matter who you are supporting for Vice President, you should be equally outraged by the blatant disrespect of Black women.

Black women have been and remain vital across sectors. We are indebted to women like Ella Baker, Septima Clarke, Shirley Chisholm, Angela Davis, Fannie Lou Hamer, Barbara Jordan, Ruby Doris Robinson, and Ida B. Wells just to name a few. These women have fought to move us forward and are collectively responsible for much of this country’s progress. Black women have been leading, and we must honor, protect, support, and uplift them.

In solidarity,

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