Black Women Helped Put President Biden in Office — Here's What We Want in Return

Photo credit: Courtesy of Subjects
Photo credit: Courtesy of Subjects

From Good Housekeeping

For generations, Black women have navigated their lives, expecting to battle the immeasurable anguish that stems from gender and racial discrimination. So it’s no surprise that this demographic group’s deep longing for change catapulted Joe Biden to victory. Black women turned out in droves in the most recent presidential election—93%, to be exact, voted for the Biden-Harris ticket, confirming their position as the backbone of the Democratic party.

Now that the dust has settled and Biden sets out to execute his vision for the U.S. over the next four years, I couldn’t help but wonder: How will the new administration address this country’s history of gender and racial discrimination? Will I still have no choice but to worry about losing my son or the other boys and men in my family to police brutality or gun violence simply because of the color of their skin? Will I, and other Black women like me, be afforded the same opportunities for career advancement as our white counterparts? What gives Black women hope right now?

Good Housekeeping reached out to Black women across a range of ages, salaries and job industries with similar questions. Here’s what they had to say:

The Policies That Matter

Kyra Kyles

CEO, YR Media
Oakland, CA

Black women essentially made it possible for the Biden-Harris win. The votes and the work of Black women, including Stacey Abrams, Keisha Lance Bottoms and LaTosha Brown, delivered red-to-blue state miracles despite voter suppression tactics, so I am holding the White House to a very high level of accountability. I am encouraged and excited by many of the moves the administration has already made through executive orders regarding racial equity, immigration policy, LGBTQ+ rights, the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and ending agreements with private prisons. I’d like to see additional advocacy for measures that address affordable housing and healthcare; student loan forgiveness, increased loan and access to capital for Black female-led businesses and employment equity as key ways to ensure that we are leveling the playing field for a group that faces both gender and racial inequities. Having Black women join the administration in meaningful leadership roles is a start, but legislation and policy change gets us to the finish line.

Josephine F. Kalipeni

Deputy Director, Family Values At Work
Laurel, MD

The solutions that can have immediate and long-term impacts on Black women are numerous and deeply intertwined: Paid leave for all built with non-negotiable equity provisions, affordable child care for all, access to non-discriminant, culturally competent health care, including home and community-based care. We need safe communities. We have to close the wage and opportunity divide—increase wages and ensure a secure retirement so we're not working all our lives only to be impoverished in our later years. Ultimately, I want all Black women to have access to the benefits of an economy that has been built at our expense, but offers us little to actually enjoy. As a Black immigrant woman, I remind people that we're not monolithic. The thing I want most from Biden is a commitment to use the power of the pen through Executive Orders to move as much as he can. Congress will want to play politics and negotiate as if our lives, livelihoods, and well-being aren't on the lines daily!

Kimberly Egonmwan

Policy Advocate
Chicago, IL

When given opportunities, Black women succeed. When we succeed, we improve the conditions of our families, our community and the country as a whole. President Biden can work to give Black women a voice in the creation and implementation of the policies necessary for us to have equal opportunities and access.

Right now, Black women are more likely to die from COVID-19, breast cancer and heart disease, and in some states, we're SIX times more likely to die giving birth. Let's end inequities and racial bias in healthcare and healthcare accessibility. Black women and families are more likely to live in "food and pharmacy deserts", i.e., neighborhoods without access to the nutrition and medications we need. Let policies dictate that Black neighborhoods have both the planning and the resources necessary to thrive. From ending the disparities that cause Black children across the country to receive inadequate education, to increasing leadership roles for Black women, to rebuilding Black communities into vibrant economic engines, the implementation of strong domestic policy, using the lens of equity, will create a solid foundation for Black women and will ultimately ensure the success of our entire country.

Tanya Christian

Hoboken, NJ

The administration could and should focus on funding educational opportunity. If the United States ever plans to achieve equity, equality and freedom for all of its citizens, it must start with ensuring that our children are on an even playing field with their non-Black peers. There is currently a $23 billion-dollar gap between predominantly white and predominantly non-white school districts. That must change. While running for president, Biden also said he would forgive student debt and incentivize the attendance at HBCUs. I hope he follows through on that commitment.

Nerissa Zhang

CEO, The Bright App
San Francisco, CA

As the mother of three young children, I want them to thrive without facing all of the barriers I have had to overcome. Policies that prevent discrimination, particularly in the business and finance realms, are a top priority for me. It is essential that more stringent anti-discrimination policies are put in place, but it all means nothing if they don’t come with strict laws to enforce them.

Katerina Canyon

Managing Director, Valentine’s Day Campaign
Seattle, WA

As a Black woman with an adult son, 12 brothers and a newly born grandson, I worry about police brutality and police accountability. I would like to see national legislation that protects Blacks from unfair treatment by police. I want to stop seeing Black people die at the hands of police. I would like to see President Biden demilitarize the police and call for stricter police accountability.

Shauna Smith

Founder, GemTalkz
Chicago, IL

President Biden should invest in education. Pay teachers as though they are professionals, introduce mandatory anti-racist and anti-bias training for all teachers, staff and administration, have tutors for every child that has an IEP, 504 plan or is learning below grade level, and form a coalition of parents, educators and administrators to examine current policies and plan recommendations for an overhaul.

Camille Newman-Alleyne

Director, Brooklyn Women's Business Center; Founder, Pop Up Plus Inc.
Brooklyn, NY

Before the pandemic, Black women were starting businesses at record rates, yet still being denied access to capital that would help these businesses scale. With the pandemic this issue has only been exacerbated. As a Black female business owner, I would like President Joe Biden to create special programs that identify the gaps in funding, provide specialized grants for small businesses and growth opportunities that will set them up for success.

What Gives Me Hope

Alcinia Whiters

Communications Manager
Las Vegas, NV

One thing that gives me hope as a Black woman in this country is how the voices of the marginalized are being amplified. It seems like people are really starting to "get it" when we say listen to Black women. It doesn't necessarily mean to do anything a Black woman tells you to do, but it means to hear our stories and let that inform how we understand the way the world works and furthermore, let it inform the policy decisions that are being made.

Another thing that gives me hope as a Black woman in this country is obviously our Vice President. To see a Black woman be the first to ever hold that office really inspires and motivates me to stay civically engaged, because one thing about Black women is we always have each other's back. I know that the Biden-Harris administration will need my ongoing support if I expect them to get anything done.

C. Nicole Flowers

Public Relations Executive
Chicago, IL

I’m a mother of one and bonus mother of one; both are girls. I want Biden’s administration to help bring them a step closer to equality in every way possible. As Black women, they will have to work harder just like my generation and generations before us. I hope that with the Biden administration, they can continue to move the needle for Black women in America. Nothing will change overnight, but Black women have so much potential and often don’t have the same amount of opportunity as men and non-Black women. Having a woman as Vice President will not make this change overnight. However, I really want to see this administration make a difference.

Elizabeth Thomas

Assistant Director of Events, American University; Owner, Beth Ella Event and Interior Designs
Greenbelt, MD

I have never thought of myself as a very political person, but life has a way of teaching you lessons one way or another. The past four years have taught me to be more aware. The change in the administration has created a sense of hopefulness. I'm feeling hopeful that Biden will tackle the wealth gap, help the disenfranchised obtain equal pay, end other forms of workplace discrimination and harassment and encourage women to take steps forward to obtain their greatest dreams. I want to own a home and though this is not a groundbreaking desire, I finally feel hopeful that this can be my fate.

Career Advancement

Lola Bakare

CMO Advisor & Inclusive Marketing Strategist, be/co
Harrisburg, PA

I want to see way more of what we're already seeing—Black women in senior positions where we are both empowered to continue transforming the trajectory of our collective prosperity as a nation while also being the fairly compensated face and personal beneficiary of that work.

Raquel Eatmon

Entrepreneur, speaker, author
Cleveland, OH

We need the veil lifted. The stigma that if there can be only one Black woman in the C-suite of an organization is troubling. Why can’t there be three additional Black women? Why are we stuck in this narrow-mindedness of “All we need is one to show others that it is possible?” It’s been possible but remains impossible due to a range of limiting beliefs and an old checklist system.

We need more resources and capital for Black female entrepreneurs. Our start-ups are often underfunded and overlooked. My hope is that President Biden’s plan to help Black women (and contribute to Diversity & Inclusion) will send a clear message to decision makers, that Black women are outstanding contributors and true agents of change. Let us in.

My hope is that right now, all across America, Black women are tying their hair back, rolling up their sleeves and preparing to step through this less narrow door. Opportunity isn’t precious—it’s expected. I hope Black women will expect it and know that we are definitely worth it.

Alexus Renee

Single Mom; Entrepreneur
Calumet City, IL

President Biden needs to work on giving us the same opportunities as our counterparts, and allow for more help for female Black-owned businesses. And now that we have a Black woman as our Vice President, that in itself gives me hope as a Black woman that I can achieve any goal I set my sights to.

Consider Our Voices and Our Families

Nicolet Gatewood

Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Haddad & Partners
Middletown, CT

The best way to support Black women is by protecting and investing in our families, communities and collective futures. Amidst a pandemic disproportionally affecting people of color, I’m concerned about affordable health care. Equally critical is the agenda making adequate advances to reform the criminal justice system, address livable wages and the wealth gap and increase access to higher education without crippling student debt.

Kelley Ukhun

Central Maryland

One of the biggest challenges affecting Black women today centers around the disenfranchisement of the Black family in America from Black men being unjustly targeted for centuries. This norm in society, centered around the willful imprisonment of Black men (and women), has only now been given national attention. And with the upswing in hate comes the upswing in talks that Black mothers have to have with their children about what it means to be Black in America.

The need for support in bringing value and capacity back to Black families seems to be pushing forward slowly in the agenda of this new administration through the appointments of so many people of color to high places in government and especially with the history-breaking selection and election of Kamala Harris. She is the game-changer for all of us Black women.

Phyllis G. Williams

Special Education Teacher; Co-host, Living the Principles
Fort Bragg, NC

There isn't anything I'd like President Biden to achieve for Black women. Instead, I would like President Biden to continue with his efforts of ensuring Black women are seen and respected.

Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old Black poet, recited her work "The Hill We Climb" on Inauguration Day. She encouraged willing listeners to take an honest look at themselves and at America. Kamala Harris is the first female vice president and female vice president of color. As I looked at my social media account, I saw women from all backgrounds across the world wear #PearlsforKamala. I saw young girls with shirts of hope that they could also be in the White House one day. President Biden has also re-instated placing Harriet Tubman, the abolitionist on the $20 bill. This fearless leader of our past can remind us to be brave during the face of danger and when it's unpopular. President Biden ensuring that Black women are represented gives us power.

Black women coming into positions of power give me hope for all America. As long as conscious Black women with level heads are put in positions of power, we will make the necessary shifts in the government, various job sites and communities. We have already been advocating for ourselves and others for years. However, if we are put in the game, we will knock it out the park.

Porche Bennett

Activist; Community Leader
Kenosha, WI

As a Moorish-American woman, there is no hope if I have to depend on the government to help make change. My hope is for more women to stand up and become great leaders. So many women are put down, pushed to the side and told to be quiet, but I want to see more of us in office as well as more teachers and doctors.

Brianne Rowe

Senior Graphic Designer
New York, NY

What I’d like to see achieved for Black women in America are not things Joe Biden’s administration alone will be able to introduce or accomplish. Black women need a true end to racism, sexism, colorism, hair discrimination and misogyny. Black women need to be able to feel safe, loved and protected. Black women need to feel seen and heard. Black women need more genuine opportunities for success without being used as a token. Black women need to be able to feel comfortable in their workplaces. Black women need to not have to be “strong” all the time. Black women need to not have the weight of “saving America from itself” on our backs. It would take a complete overhaul of societal views, prejudices and seriously addressing white supremacy to even begin changing any of these things for us. I am in support of Joe Biden and seeing Kamala Harris being sworn in brought tears to my eyes that day. I believe they will do their best while in power, but realistically, they have many uphill battles to fight and Black women’s issues is probably not high on the list of priorities.

Shenelle Wallace

Executive Assistant
Brooklyn, NY

For so long, Black women have been fighting to be seen as valuable and equal. The past year has proven that we will continue to thrive no matter the resistance. What gives me hope as a Black woman in this country is that women's voices are being heard. We have someone in office who identifies with the plight of African-American women and was able to rise above that. We've just witnessed a woman of color occupy the second highest office in the country. What could be more hopeful than that?

Nancy Atufunwa

Director of Marketing
Anaheim, CA

I don’t have children yet, but I believe there needs to be more focus put on establishing a comprehensive mental healthcare system. During the 1980s, we saw how the repeal of the Mental Health Systems Act and other related policy decisions made it difficult for people in need of mental healthcare, especially those Black and Brown people who were disproportionately impacted. We as a country need to get to a place where mental health is treated seriously rather than being stigmatized, so Americans can access the services and support they need without barriers or shame.

Taiisha Bradley

CEO & Publicist, Taiisha Bradley, Inc.
Murfreesboro, TN

As a mother of two, Biden can create a better future for my children by managing the climate crisis so we have a world to live in, gun control so I don't fear for my children's lives when they return to school and eradicating the systemic racism interweaved into our country so my sons are safe in their God-given skin.

Sharon B Mills

Publicist and Virtual Event Professional
Linden, NJ

As a Black woman in this country, what gives me hope is the fact that a woman from the same background as me is in the highest office of the land—a woman who graduated from a Historically Black University and got her start in leadership at that same university. Because the Biden administration has such strong women in the cabinet, I do not doubt that some strides will be made for women in the next four years.

My main hope for the Biden administration is for them to forgive student loan debt. Black women graduate with the most student loan debt, according to NewsWeek. I currently have $28K in loans, which is on the low-end for most Black women. Even a small $10k forgiveness can literally change my life.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

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