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How to be a Winner in the New Normal

I’ve never been with a winner. Well, except that streak when the North Carolina Tar Heels won the NCAA Basketball tournament and the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series and Peyton Manning and the Colts won the Super Bowl.

That was an outlier.

The problem is, I don’t tend to pick my “teams” based on winner criteria. For example, at the onset of my legal career when I was choosing law firms, I didn’t make my decision based on where I could make the most money or whether the firm was considered “the best” in the state. I looked at a firm’s history: during Mississippi’s Civil Rights wars, which side was the firm on? As a result, the firm I joined was not the one at the top, the “winner” in the eyes of a state that really wanted to forget its Civil Rights history. It was simply the most principled law firm in town.

I was mulling this over on Election Night in America, 2016, as I lay in bed with the covers over my head. I thought, Hillary Clinton’s not gonna win because you never win. Then I thought to myself, there’s a reason you never win. You don’t try to win. You lay your money on those whose values you admire, rather than those who are a sure bet to win the world’s favor. You’re doing this “winner” thing all wrong, girl.

Then I woke up the next morning and saw the statistics on those who had voted for Trump. I discovered that the only sane people in America are African-American women, who voted for Trump at 4%. As compared, for example, to white women who broke for Trump at 52%.

My immediate reaction was, I’m never voting for another politician who’s not a Black woman.

Then I thought more deeply about the election, reflecting on my role in the loss. For the first 19 years of my professional life, I’d focused on women’s issues. But I’d dropped that, and the last 15 years, I’d focused on racism. I hadn’t kept up the good fight, and Clinton lost. Then I remembered the voting statistics on Black women, and I wondered if maybe the time had come to blend the two. Feminism and anti-racism, supporting Black women at the polls.

And I thought about how my only true (non-literary) hero is Ida B. Wells who refused to concede the stage to the men when fighting for racial justice and refused to retreat to the back of the white marches when fighting for women’s rights. Doing both, refusing to give up on either.

And I thought, you know, sometimes your first knee-jerk reaction is right.

Every Democrat or Independent or Green Party or Democratic Socialist in America is trying to decide how to move forward from this election. Some are focusing on listening to the Trump voters in order to understand the why of it. I don’t have to understand the why of it. All I have to do is figure out my next step, and what I know is that Black women voted for Trump at 4%. If Black women are in charge, we will never again elect a Donald Trump.

So, I’m doubling down, y’all. I’m supporting women of color running for office. Plus, I’ll work to support any Black women considering a run for office so I’ll have that choice more often when I vote. I am not asking Black women to save the country, far from it; they’ve had enough of that put on them already. What I’m saying is, if you want to hold office, I’m here to support you.

I may never win another election. But that’s okay. At least I’m supporting the sane folks, which is a win for me.

Ida B. Wells
Ida B. Wells

African American women for Clinton, Ida B. Wells, US Election 2016

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