BTR News: Alabama’s Special Election and the Black Vote

Doug Jones’s victory over Roy Moore in Alabama’s special election to fill the unexpired term of former Senator Jeff Sessions was predicted by human rights activist Malcolm X in his famous speech the Ballot or the Bullet. Malcolm said that when whites are evenly divided about a candidate, black voters if they vote as a bloc, are the ones who decide which candidate goes to the doghouse and which one goes to the White House.

Despite ongoing efforts in Alabama and other northern and southern states to suppress the black vote, a practice that has been going on since the Reconstruction Era, Alabama’s black voters turned out in higher than expected numbers for the special election. Some reports put black voter turnout as high as 30 plus percent while conservative estimates put the number lower at 28 percent. Alabama is one of those states that enacted voter id laws and still disenfranchises those slapped with the felony slave status that disproportionately affects Black men.

A white woman writing for the Independent wrote an op-ed piece seeking to credit black women alone for Roy Moore’s defeat. Perhaps too thirsty for recognition, the hashtag #Blackwomen started trending on Twitter as a response to the article. However, this is the problem with identity politics that seek to separate black women from black men. The truth is that without the support of black women (97 percent) and black men (92 percent) casting their ballots for Doug Jones in such high numbers Roy Moore would probably have won the election.

Black voters must continue to stick together and vote according to what is in our best interests as Malcolm wisely told us in the 1960s. We must also reject those narratives that seek to divide us from one another based on gender.

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