2017 has been a year of immense disappointment and insensibility perpetuated by many members of the United States government and administration, as well as other leaders around the world. However, this year has also been met with even more resistance and inclusive movement building by Black women from art curation to politics to social issues. From Maxine Waters reclaiming her time and accepting no nonsense in the senate, Kamala Harris taking a bold stand on issues of immigration and healthcare, Tarana Burke creating the #MeToo movement, actresses like Tracee Ellis Ross and Yara Shahidi seamlessly integrating humor with politics in the entertainment industry, Deana Haggag protecting the arts in Trump’s America, and I could go on.
Not even a decade ago having Black women as leaders in all of these fields which have historically and continually excluded us seemed like a distant future, but it is here now. The mayor of Atlanta is a Black women who talked about #BlackGirlMagic in her acceptance speech and the interim mayor of San Francisco is a Black woman who used to be the executive director of the African American Art & Culture Complex. Black Women are now the most educated population in the United States and since the beginning of U.S. history have often been overlooked for their roles as leaders, change makers, and social activists. When Doug Jones won Alabama and the statistics came out about the Black vote, it was no surprise to us that 98% of Black women voted for him.
It was said that Black women saved Alabama and have been saving the U.S. for a long time with our politics and voting habits. The best responses to this sentiment was on Twitter, one of which was by Amy Sall who said articulately and concisely: “The black vote/black women’s vote is a practice of refusal and a personal one. We are not trying to save America, we end up doing so in the process of refusing to allow continued assaults on our being. Black people vote to try and save themselves and their children. Not America.” It was not about saving the United States, it never was. It was about saving ourselves. You can tell the quality of a nation by the way it treats its most vulnerable populations and its women. Black women in America are among the most vulnerable populations in the U.S. so if saving ourselves means saving others than that is the only logical thing to do because leadership is about saving each other.
It is not news that we have always been creating the futures that we want. It is not new that we have always been creating futures that fully represent who we are, what we’re about, and our all dynamic creativities. For those who are not ready for the future of Black women leadership (that is already here), you are being left behind. For all of those who think it is in some distant future when diversity is not just a theory but a practiced reality – you will be left behind. The future of socially conscious, creative, multifaceted, dynamic, intersectional leadership is now and Black women are it!