As presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden inched closer to deciding his running mate, racist and sexist attacks ramped up primarily against the three African-American women among the front-runners.
In an open letter by nearly 700 Black women leaders, the attacks were roundly denounced.
“Black women are many things. We are business executives, political strategists, and elected officials, philanthropists and activists,” read the letter, circulated throughout the media and posted to various social media accounts. “We are health and wellness practitioners. We are entertainers and faith leaders. We are wives, mothers, daughters, educators and students. We set and shift culture. We build power and we are powerful.”
Counting among the many Black women who signed the open letter are Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, Maya Cummings, Dr. Hazel Dukes, Suzanne DePasse, Valeisha Butterfield Jones, Cora Masters Barry, Melanie Campbell and Karen Boykin-Towns.
“We are the highest propensity of voters in this nation. We are a coalition of Black women leaders, who, in this inflection point of the Black liberation movement, where people around the world are galvanized to action, know that the time for Black women in the United States is now,” the women penned in the letter.
They noted that over the past few months in the media, they have witnessed the public criticism of many Black women named potential vice presidents.
The candidate list included former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Rep. Val Demings, and former U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice. Harris — Biden’s eventual choice — Bass and Rice were considered front-runners.
“We have also watched many of these highly-credentialed women be disrespected in the media over the last few weeks,” the letter states. “Regardless of your political affiliation, whether it’s the media, members of the vice-presidential vetting committee, a former Governor, a top political donor, or a small-town mayor, we are not your Aunt Jemimas.
“The use of the racist myth of a happy, Black servant portrayed as a happy domestic worker loyal to her white employer is not lost on us,” they wrote. “While some of the relentless attacks on Black women and our leadership abilities have been more suggestive than others, make no mistake – we are qualified and ambitious without remorse.
“We are servant leaders – motivated by a desire to uplift and advance our communities and nation. And we will not tolerate racist or sexist tropes consistently utilized in an effort to undermine our power,” the letter said. “No matter who you are supporting for Vice President, you should be equally outraged by the blatant disrespect of Black women. Black women have been and remain vital across sectors. We are indebted to women like Ella Baker, Septima Clarke, Shirley Chisholm, Angela Davis, Fannie Lou Hamer, Barbara Jordan, Ruby Doris Robinson and Ida B. Wells, just to name a few.
“These women have fought to move us forward and are collectively responsible for much of this country’s progress,” they wrote. “Black women have been leading, and we must honor, protect, support and uplift them.”