By Rachel Brashier
“Now is the accepted time. Not tomorrow, not some more convenient season. It is today that our best work can be done and not some future day or year.”
— W.E.B. DuBois
There comes a time when the words from the past inform the present and after Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement of his appointment to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ U.S. Senate seat, Black women must continue our fight to be seen, heard and respected.
With this appointment, the governor chose to overlook the hard-fought-for voice and representation of Black women in the Senate. In doing so, he missed what could have been a defining moment in his leadership. DuBois’ words are not a whisper, but a shout you can’t ignore.
Black women’s “best work” has supported every significant movement and election in this country, realizing gains across systems of housing, health, education and justice reform.
Our work is a check on the United States’ purported ideals of equity and inclusion; it is both a mirror and moral compass removing the smirk of self-congratulatory exceptionalism and meritocracy peddled by Uncle Sam.
Black women have consistently organized and legislated to quell the impact of systemic racism on our families and communities. We have earned the right to not be “convenient.” Black women have earned the opportunity to speak and represent themselves at all levels of government.
Newsom chose the “old boy network.” He chose political expediency and ran roughshod over a Latina preparing to run for secretary of state by offering that position to a Black woman, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, a tireless advocate and accomplished legislative leader with years of experience. The Black and Latino communities desperately need to expand our representation in all levels of government. Being relegated to a handful of seats is unacceptable and we stand in solidarity when we say our time is now.
This year witnessed one of the loudest retributions against the status quo and Black women put their boots on the ground, took up political arms and delivered victory. We know our worth, our political power and we know we deserve better. We are not demoralized and this is not a defeat.
The Black Women’s Democratic Club joined an effort of Black women spanning the state over the last two months to #keeptheseat. The initiative grew into a national movement that engaged Black women policymakers, legislators, influencers and celebrities calling on the need to #keeptheseat for a Black woman.
The governor made an insensitive, politically tone-deaf and unjust decision. Democracy lives and breathes because Black women show up. Our attention and organized action have benefitted Black families and communities while also uplifting other communities of color, identities and white women.
We are not content to labor and not participate. Representation matters.
We are committed to this work and will continue this fight for representation. The Black Women’s Democratic Club will augment our efforts to prepare a bench of qualified Black women ready to serve in the interest of equity and justice for all communities.
We will continue to amplify the voices and electoral power of Black women across California and will work with allies across the country to ensure that the U.S. Senate represents everyone.
Join us by contributing to our work. We need the voices of all communities who understand that elevating Black women means advancing solutions that bend the arc towards equity and justice.
Black women have consistently organized and legislated to quell the impact of systemic racism on our families and communities.
Rachel Brashier is the president of the Black Women’s Democratic Club.