White Women: Let’s Get Our Shit Together

White Women: Let’s Get Our Shit Together.

In the run-up to the Texas gubernatorial election, much hand-wringing was done over the Hispanic lady voter: Are they too socially conservative to support Wendy Davis? Will they come around to Abortion Barbie? Will they cotton to Greg Abbott’s but-my-wife-is-Hispanic schtick?

I was guilty of a version of this, myself.

I should have looked in the mirror.

It was women like me—married white women, specifically—who failed Wendy Davis—and ourselves, and our families, and Texas families—on Tuesday night. According to exit polls, Black women, Black men, Latinas, and a near-majority of Latinos who voted turned out in solid numbers for Davis.

Among voters, 94 percent of Black women, 90 percent of Black men, 61 percent of Latinas, and 49 percent of Latinos in Texas voted for Wendy Davis.

Meanwhile, just 32 percent of white Texas women who voted did so for Wendy Davis.

You’ll hear that Greg Abbott “carried” women voters in Texas. Anyone who says that is also saying this: that Black women and Latinas are not “women,” and that carrying white women is enough to make the blanket statement that Abbott carried all women. That women generallyfailed to vote for Wendy Davis. As if women of color are some separate entity, some mysterious other, some bizarre demographic of not-women. 

The story does not begin and end with “men” and “women”; we have to look at whichmen, which women—particularly if the Democratic Party is ever going to decide to come out fighting hard on issues like immigration reform and moving the gamepiece aggressively forward, rather than backward, on reproductive rights.

Once more, with feeling: Greg Abbott and the Republican Party did not win women. They won white women. Time and time again, people of color have stood up for reproductive rights, for affordable health care, for immigrant communities while white folks vote a straight “I got mine” party ticket—even when they haven’t, really, gotten theirs.

The trend is echoed in national politics; we saw it play out across the country last night. To be sure, there are many factors that contributed to America’s rightward dive over the cliff: In a post-Citizens United electoral landscape, racist gerrymandering and voter ID laws appear to have had their intended effects of dividing and disenfranchising already marginalized voters.

But there’s another factor at play that Democrats fail to grapple with, and the Republican Party capitalizes on, time and time again: the historical crisis of empathy in the white community, one much older than gerrymandered congressional districts or poll taxes.

Let’s talk about what a vote for Wendy Davis meant: It meant a vote for strong public school funding, for Texas Medicaid expansion, for affordable family planning care, for environmental reforms, for access to a full spectrum of reproductive health-care options.

On the flip side, a vote for Greg Abbott meant a vote for the status quo, for empowering big industry and big political donors, for cutting public school funds and dismantling the Affordable Care Act, for overturning Roe v. Wade.

White women chose Greg Abbott Tuesday night. We did not choose empathy. Texas has been red for two decades. We do not choose empathy. We choose the fact that our children will always have access to education, that our daughters will always be able to fly to California or New York for abortion care, that our mothers will always be able to get that crucial Pap smear.

We chose a future where maternal mortality—but not our maternal mortality—rates will rise. We chose a future where preventable deaths from cervical cancer—but not our deaths—will rise. We chose a future where deaths from illegal, back-alley abortions—but not our illegal, back-alley abortions—will rise. We chose ourselves, and only ourselves.

Without empathy, a culture of fear is allowed to foment and thrive. It is that culture that has ensured that white folks never need engage with the idea of non-white humanity, with the concept of lives of color. It is this culture of fear, our culture of fear, that put Greg Abbott in the governor’s mansion, and it needs to be cut out of our communities like the cancer it is. We do this by rebuilding ourselves in a better image, in the image of our sisters of color who, time and again, have shown that they care that we have access to health care, to the voting booth, even though we have not done the same for them.

We have much to learn by witnessing the strength of Texans of color, by respecting and supporting the work of groups like the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, theAfiya CenterSisterSong, the Texas Organizing ProjectMamas of Color RisingRise Up/Levanta Texas, and asking the question: What role of assistance can we play as you lead?

We have so, so very much to learn.

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Presidential Proclamation — National Native American Heritage Month, 2014 | The White House

Presidential Proclamation — National Native American Heritage Month, 2014 | The White House.

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

Every year, our Nation pauses to reflect on the profound ways the First Americans have shaped our country’s character and culture. The first stewards of our environment, early voices for the values that define our Nation, and models of government to our Founding Fathers — American Indians and Alaska Natives helped build the very fabric of America. Today, their spirit and many contributions continue to enrich our communities and strengthen our country. During National Native American Heritage Month, we honor their legacy, and we recommit to strengthening our nation-to-nation partnerships.

As we celebrate the rich traditions of the original peoples of what is now the United States, we cannot forget the long and unfortunate chapters of violence, discrimination, and deprivation they had to endure. For far too long, the heritage we honor today was disrespected and devalued, and Native Americans were told their land, religion, and language were not theirs to keep. We cannot ignore these events or erase their consequences for Native peoples — but as we work together to forge a brighter future, the lessons of our past can help reaffirm the principles that guide our Nation today.

In a spirit of true partnership and mutual trust, my Administration is committed to respecting the sovereignty of tribal nations and upholding our treaty obligations, which honor our nation-to-nation relationship of peace and friendship over the centuries. We have worked to fairly settle longstanding legal disputes and provide justice to those who experienced discrimination. We have taken unprecedented steps to strengthen tribal courts, especially when it comes to criminal sentencing and prosecuting individuals who commit violence against Native American women. And next month, my Administration will host our sixth annual White House Tribal Nations Conference, part of our ongoing effort to promote meaningful collaboration with tribal leaders as we fight to give all our children the tomorrow they deserve.

Today, as community and tribal leaders, members of our Armed Forces, and drivers of progress and economic growth, American Indians and Alaska Natives are working to carry forward their proud history, and my Administration is dedicated to expanding pathways to success for Native Americans. To increase opportunity in Indian Country, we are investing in roads and high-speed Internet and supporting job training and tribal colleges and universities. The Affordable Care Act provides access to quality, affordable health insurance, and it permanently reauthorized the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, which provides care to many Native Americans. And because the health of tribal nations depends on the health of tribal lands, my Administration is partnering with Native American leaders to protect these lands in a changing climate.

Every American, including every Native American, deserves the chance to work hard and get ahead. This month, we recognize the limitless potential of our tribal nations, and we continue our work to build a world where all people are valued and no child ever has to wonder if he or she has a place in our society.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 2014 as National Native American Heritage Month. I call upon all Americans to commemorate this month with appropriate programs and activities, and to celebrate November 28, 2014, as Native American Heritage Day.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.

BARACK OBAMA