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.