I know that the African-American women and men who won this election did not do it for me or my angst about the morality of my nation. I know that did not do it for Mr. Jones. That even if they considered a larger political strategy, the pressing concern was personal and local. It was an act of self-preservation. It was a hope for marginalized communities.
I know that Alabama–no, the marginalized voters of Alabama–was hard hit by Shelby County, the 2013 SCOTUS decision on the Voting Rights Act. I’ve done day-of-election protection, where you witness and report where voters are lied to about their rights or about their polling place, and I know that VRA or no VRA, white people in this country are trying very hard to keep black people from voting.
I know that a lot of people have trouble leaving their workplace on voting day (I have no trouble leaving my workplace on any day). I know that a lot of people have to do a lot more than cross the street to get to their polling place. I know that a lot of people have to coordinate their child care with voting. I know that all these difficulties increase as one’s privilege decreases.
I know that for all it’s a right, voting is not simple for the many citizens threatened by men like Roy Moore. I am ashamed of and sorry for the white women who don’t know these things, don’t care about these things, or are so racist they remain unmoved by these things.
I know that the African-American women and men who swayed and saved this election did it despite the white voters who have long voted against their interests, white voters who have accepted without protest violence against African-American communities, white voters who sustain institutions designed to shut out or oppress non-whites. We owe them more than relief and gratitude.
Yet I am grateful for those who voted for Doug Jones. I am grateful for those who drove voters to the polls. Grateful for those who organized door-knocking, postcard-writing, phone-banking campaigns. And for those who participated in those campaigns. Grateful for the attorneys who still pursue voting rights litigation, who volunteer with election protection activities, who are working with states to correct extreme gerrymandering.
I am not yet hopeful myself, but I am grateful for the hope and strength of others.