Ruby Sales ~ From my front porch 8/12/20

This mag­ic moment is made for democ­ra­cy. It gave White America anoth­er chance to do right by Black women and legit­imize their claim of democ­ra­cy. Additionally I would be remiss if I failed to acknowl­edge that this is a tran­scen­dent moment that hon­ors the strug­gles of women of all col­ors who went through the fire of misog­y­ny and White patri­archy to make real the promise of democ­ra­cy and equal rights for all.

How we read this his­tor­i­cal moment where Biden has cho­sen Kamala Harris, a Black woman, for Vice President deter­mines in whose hands do we think the locus of pow­er resides and from which socio his­tor­i­cal gazes do we view and under­stand his­to­ry and the effi­ca­cy of our lives.

All this morn­ing mem­bers of the media and their guests have declared that this moment legit­imizes Black women. I dis­agree. Our lives are already wor­thy and valid. We do not need a polit­i­cal office to val­i­date the sig­nif­i­cance of our lives.  Rather democ­ra­cy needs us to hold office in order to val­i­date it which has been left want­i­ng for 500 years.  Nor is hold­ing a pow­er­ful office the ulti­mate expres­sion of the sig­nif­i­cance of our lives unless you view them whol­ly through a White Empire gaze.

This moment is the ver­i­fi­ca­tion of an impor­tant ful­fill­ment of the promise of democ­ra­cy which gen­er­a­tions of Black girls and women, includ­ing my sis­ters in SNCC, and gen­er­a­tions of ordi­nary Black girls and women poured their hearts and  hands into mold­ing. We accom­plished this awe­some mis­sion despite the per­sis­tent attempts of fas­cist White suprema­cists to abort it.

Kamala Harris is the man­i­fes­ta­tion of the resilience, faith and steel deter­mi­na­tion of Black women’s and girls’ vic­to­ries of keep­ing our eyes on the ideals of democ­ra­cy. We kept the faith to its promise and pos­si­bil­i­ty when all around us the guardians of Whiteness method­i­cal­ly tried to destroy it because rather than believ­ing in it, they feared it.

This moment gives truth to the pow­er and inner strength of Black women who stayed the course in the most bru­tal sys­temic waters with­out becom­ing bro­ken winged birds or wound­ed or embit­tered beyond repair by the trau­ma of state sanc­tioned rape and vio­lence by White men and their bro­ken promis­es of democracy.

It is for these rea­sons and more that I sit in deep grat­i­tude and rev­er­ence in this moment to my enslaved ances­tors and gen­er­a­tions of Black girls and women who kept faith­ful to the promise and ideals of democ­ra­cy when there was very lit­tle evi­dence that their work would bear fruit. It is out of this his­to­ry that Kamala Harris descends and con­tin­ues. It is out of this his­to­ry that America’s hope for the sur­vival and pos­si­bil­i­ty of democ­ra­cy abides.

Today, Black women hand­ed America a major vic­to­ry and reaf­fir­ma­tion that democ­ra­cy has a future in a grow­ing fas­cist world where White men con­tin­ue to car­ry out a war against it.

Today, Biden’s selec­tion of Kamala Harris presents White America, espe­cial­ly White men who have done democ­ra­cy the most harm, a path­way out of socio polit­i­cal nihilism into the life affirm­ing way towards repa­ra­tion, redemp­tion and  restora­tion. It is out of this his­to­ry that democ­ra­cy “still ris­es.” It is out of this his­to­ry that democ­ra­cy breathes. It is out of this his­to­ry that democ­ra­cy gains its legitimacy.


Ruby Sales is the founder and direc­tor of the Spirit House Project, a non-prof­it that works towards racial, eco­nom­ic, and social jus­tice. As a teenag­er at Tuskegee University in the 1960s, she joined the Student Nonviolent Coördinating Committee (SNCC) and went to work as a stu­dent free­dom fight­er in Lowndes County, Alabama. A social activist, schol­ar, pub­lic the­olo­gian, and edu­ca­tor, Sales has preached around the coun­try on race, class, gen­der and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. She has degrees from Tuskegee Institute, Manhattanville College, and Princeton University. She also received a Masters of Divinity from the Episcopal Divinity School (EDS) in 1998.