Though several news outlets confirmed former Vice President Joe Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump, local millennial Cherelle Swain said a friend’s text served as confirmation that after several anxious days, the ballot-counting process had reached its conclusion.
For Swain, however, that feeling of relief only lasted briefly when she took into account the overwhelming number of voters who supported Trump and what has been described as Trump’s unwillingness to respect the electoral process.
“It’s a big victory. At the same time, the process of watching the red states across [America] reemphasizes the beliefs of [people in] this country,” said Swain, an activist and writer who lives in Northeast.
“In the next 90 days, we’re really going to see. There’s a sense of unpredictability and we don’t know if that’s more of the media or the contentious environment that’s been brewing [in a] heightened racial climate,” she said.
Late Saturday morning, the Associated Press called Biden the winner of the 2020 presidential election after he clinched Pennsylvania and secured more than the 270 electoral college votes needed to be named president-elect. The electoral victory has also been significant for Sen. Kamala Harris, a multiracial HBCU graduate and darling of the Divine Nine who made history as the first woman elected to the vice presidency.
Though the Biden-Harris ticket showed an increasingly significant lead over Trump-Pence by Thursday, some pollsters and news organizations remained cautious in declaring a winner. The process to count mail-in ballots delayed results for Georgia, Nevada, Michigan, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, among other states. As the nation waited for the culmination of those contests, the Trump campaign levied accusations of election fraud and attempted, unsuccessfully, to spark legal battles in three battleground states.
The tug-of-war went into the start of this week, with calls for the Trump administration to allow the start of the transition process and Trump’s termination of Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
In a statement on Saturday, Biden expressed humility before calling on the nation to put aside differences. While some local grassroots organizers, like Ty Hobson-Powell, agree there’s work to be done, he said the onus remains on Biden and Harris to return the favor to Blacks who secured victories for them in American urban centers.
Amid protests for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Blacks killed by police, Hobson-Powell launched Concerned Citizens DC as a vehicle for demanding police reform. Long before that, he and other members of the 51 for 51 D.C. statehood movement met Biden and Harris on the campaign trail in Iowa, where he said the duo expressed their commitment to making D.C. the 51st state.
“While we rejoice at this moment from the departure from blatant racism, there’s more discreet racism that is prevalent in America,” he said. “It’s baked into institutions. I, along with so many others, am committed to doing the work no matter who’s president. We’re continuing to hold them accountable.”
The election didn’t garner any wins that significantly shifted power in the U.S. Senate. In the U.S. House, Democrats lost four seats while Republicans gained five.
The unfolding scenario has caused great concern for Kwasi Agyeman, who said seeing more than 70 million people vote for Trump didn’t come as a surprise.
Agyeman, a millennial and historian from New York City, likened this election to the beginning of the Reconstruction era – a period of high expectations which ended with several rollbacks of rights for Blacks.
“We have a Republican majority in the Senate. Biden and Harris could push for economic development and long-term community programs and the Senate could vote it down,” Agyeman said.
“There’s a separation between grassroots and political expectations,” he continued. “What we want as a community is different from the political reality. If Biden and Harris don’t have the Senate, they will get roadblocked.”