Source: iOne Creative / iOne
So, I have a new dog, Franklin, who is 1000 watts of big puppy energy that sparks at about 7 a.m. and burns hard and bright deep into the evening, which means I spend a lot of time trying to wear him out, doing what I’d barely ever do if I wasn’t a dog mom: I walk. A lot. And all that walking has me seeing things I’d hardly noticed—interacting with people I hadn’t before. It’s… interesting.
See, I live in a neighborhood in midtown Atlanta, where 100-year-old shotgun houses in which your Black aunties and uncles built their lives and raised their families and praised their God have been largely replaced with multi-story houses and overpriced condos occupied by
significantly more affluent and mostly white residents who cut an interesting portrait in the warm ATL sunrise.
Their lawns are littered with signs that I suppose are meant to announce their beliefs and politics: “Black Lives Matter” posters dance on yardsticks, rainbow flags flap in the wind, and practically every other fence/tree/porch stages colorful portraits of Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and dark blue signs with “Warnock” written big and bold, assuring passersby that Abrams and U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock, both democrats, each have the homeowner’s vote over the candidates’ respective conservative Republican opponents, Gov. Brian Kemp and that numbskull Hershel Walker.
Source: Courtesy of Denene Millner / D. Millner
I find these poster pronouncements most interesting when the owners of said homes peek out from their porches and front doors and the end of their driveways, clad in their Lululemon and expensive training shoes, having gentrified this formerly Black neighborhood into an unrecognizably homogenous affair, completely missing the irony of it all as they stare at this Black woman with the adorable puppy skipping down the street, happy and free—like I’m a festering boogie man with a ferocious dog, invading their special space. My waves and cheery “good mornings” are mostly met with tepid “helloes,” if they bother to speak at all. This Black human—a woman, a mother, a daughter, a writer, a dedicated, lifelong Democrat, a kind and caring neighbor to those who deserve it—is most certainly not someone whose life matters to these people. At least it doesn’t feel like it. Those “all are welcome” signs aren’t meant for me and mine.
This was what was on my mind this morning as I listened to yet another news report blathering on and on about how tight the race is between Warnock and Walker and how screwed Abrams is—both made reality allegedly because Black male voters are skewing conservative and Republican and are sitting so squarely on Donald Trump’s nutsack that they’d vote against Abrams and Warnock, if they bother to vote at all. Like, pollsters and pundits are legit spreading like wildfire this notion that Black men are going to be the downfall of two of the most prominent Black Dems in the country and, by extension, the slim Democratic majority in the Senate because they no longer want to vote for… Black people.
This is being said as if the very Lululemon-clad neighbors with the “Black Lives Matter” signs on their lawns won’t do what they actually do practically every election: vote their interests, which, despite the “Black Lives Matter” signs and the polls and their insistence that they give a damn about Black issues and abortion rights and human immigration policy and the climate and all the things, tend to fall lockstep with conservative Republican white men. Just last week, a Wall Street Journal poll revealed that white women have “significantly” shifted their support from Democrats to Republicans as they fret over inflation and the economy. This should be a surprise to exactly no one when we consider that that same voting bloc, which makes up 41 percent of the electorate, helped secure Trump’s election in 2016; 47 percent of white women voted for the now-disgraced former president, with 35 percent of college-educated white women and 56 percent of white women without college degrees pulling the lever for the man they swore before God, CNN and the Pew Research Center they would never support.