Rev. Raphael Warnock’s senatorial win Tuesday night in Georgia is a historic victory for Black political power and an affirmation for millions of Americans led by an impressive number of organizations mobilizing black and brown voters to the polls amid a pandemic. It represents a course-correcting of over a century of oppressive tactics to undermine the Black vote in the south. Most importantly, as evident by the violence that erupted in our Nation’s Capitol, the Warnock victory is also a signal to a racist radical segment of America who have outgrown their conservative shadows and are reigniting an all too familiar battle smoldering in our nation’s history.
In general, this election proves four things:
- the strength of Black women’s leadership;
- the power of strategic organizing;
- the outpouring of support by Black individuals and organizations;
- and the importance of the Black vote and voice.
Now for the first time in a decade, Democrats will control the US Senate, thereby removing Mitch McConnell as Senate majority leader. With the hope of his removal, Americans will have the opportunity for budgets that may provide relief for our communities. During the stimulus fight and COVID Relief Bill, McConnell determined economic relief for the entire nation. He held the line against giving Americans $1,200 stimulus relief. It is a glaring reminder of the power these offices have and the importance of being intentional about whom we vote for to represent our state in the US Senate and down-ballot races.
Also with this win, the Biden/Harris administration now has hope of passing progressive legislation including climate change legislation, Medicaid/Medicare, COVID-19 vaccinations made available for more communities of color, and appointing judges. It’s a slim margin with the wins. Therefore, we shouldn’t hold exaggerated expectations for the passing of progressive legislation, but it’s more than we’ve had under the Trump administration.
As we witness the continued insurrection taking place in our Nation’s Capitol, it is important to remember that there are those who plan to overturn and reject these legitimate historic victories at all cost. These individuals will not stop in their ultimate pursuit of upending the most expanded electorate in history, especially at the state and local level. Their lynch-mob style tactics mimic a past racist political ideology surging in southern rural communities and predominantly white-led institutions. In contrast to the police restraint applied to Black and Brown protesters on the same grounds over the past year, they are not met with the same level of violence.
When the Biden/Harris Administration, along with Warnock, Ossoff, and newly elected officials take their oaths of office, we must continue to do our part by not being passive voters. We must hold accountable those we elect and validating our power at the ballot box with a real commitment to policy change and work equally as hard to validate the power of the vote as we protect our people.
Democracy has been made possible by the hard work, resilience, and courage of Black people. The victory in Georgia is an intentional product of black and brown communities fighting to survive amid a pandemic and generations of systematic oppression to win back a state and nation.