“Honor your own African American freedom fighting elders, aunties, mamas, unnamed ancestors and yourself in a special photo shoot. This is a special tribute to all of the African American women who are leading the struggle in Minnesota each and every day. As we know the time has come again for African American Freedom Fighting Sisters to stand up for voting rights once again. The “Voter ID” constitutional amendment in Minnesota is one that is specifically targeting African Americans and other marginalized cultural, economic and age demographics. “ -Call for Sistas in the Struggle for Deep Democracy photoshoot
“The struggle recognition is the nexus of human identity and national identity, where much of the most important work of politics occurs. African American women fully embody this struggle.” -Melissa Harris-Perry, Sister Citizen, page 4.
According to data released by the Pew Research Center, African- American women had the highest voter turnout rates over any other key racial/ethnic/ gender demographic in the 2008 election. In other words, in terms of percentages, the level of political participation by African American women in that recent election was higher than white men, white women, Latino men, Asian-American women, or any other group. This past week, I spent some time talking with Danielle Mkali from Mainstreet Project about black women and American democracy, following up on the “Sistas in the Struggle for Deep Democracy” photoshoot she organized in mid-October. Danielle started our conversation by talking a bit about the voter turnout statistics.
“I think something that not many people have paid attention to – that hasn’t been headline news in many places or spaces- but that is very important is that black women had the highest voter turnout rate of any other group in the United States in 2008… I think that’s really significant and we need to be proud of what that means for our communities, for our families, and for future generations. We recognize the power of our vote, and we understand that’s one place that our power cannot be denied.”
For Danielle, the idea of photoshoot came as a way to recognize and honor the work that black women in particular are doing to defeat the Voter ID amendment this election as well as a way to connect this work to the legacy of struggle and resistance of black women throughout history.