By Rev. Kevin Slayton, Special to the AFRO

Ask any religious person of color where their “help” comes from and they will without fail acknowledge that it comes from the Lord. But every other person of color, whether religious or not, would concede that an undisputed primary source in their lives is a black woman. Black women have been on the scene and vitally critical to every success of the African American experience. Without their contributions and sacrifices we would have achieved very little progress to date. During this month where we as a nation pause to recognize the many contributions of black American’s I think it’s important to acknowledge the amazing gifts of black women to our modern-day conversations.

Nick & Marylin Mosby. (Photos by J. J. McQueen)

Locally we should all be encouraged by the strength of our city State’s Attorney as she withstands the public and private attacks of systems that are committed to her political demise. Yet, she continues to stand in the tradition of strength as those that have come before her. She understands like many of her contemporaries that there is an often politically motivated effort to paint them as untrustworthy or angry. Black women who don’t “stay in their place” are particularly targeted for such character distortion. But we know that when black women refuse to stay in their place entire systems can change as they did in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955. When black women get “tired of being sick and tired” entire political parties have to pause and take note.

Lt. Governor Candidate Shannon Sneed. (Photos by J. J. McQueen)

But we should not confuse the passion of black women with the emotion of anger. One needs to look no further than our U.S. Congress to witness the twisted reframing of such behaviors. Leaders such as Cori bush, Kattie Hill, Alexanderia Cortez, Ayanna Pressly and Rashida Talib are labeled as angry and dangerous to our democracy. While their white female counterparts Kyrsten Sinema and Marjorie Greene are couched as “courageously defiant” when they align themselves with the most unhealthy attempts at public rhetoric.  

Gubernatorial Candidate Tom Perez (Photos by J. J. McQueen)

Yet these black and brown sisters continue to lift the banner of excellence, while troding a new path through the moral holy grounds of righteous discontent in our public discourse. Meanwhile, too many of our leaders have become drunk with the wine of the world and forgotten our call to solidarity in the face of injustice. Even more disturbing is that many of our male leaders have taken a sip from the barrels of lowered expectations in their views of marginalized communities. They now mirror the traditions of a nation drunk with the constant elevation of white male mediocrity, as evidenced by their silence and complicit response to the communal devastation and decline of their communities. 

Rev. Slayton (Photos by J. J. McQueen)

As we seek to emerge from this catastrophic pandemic that has wreaked havoc in every corner of the globe, let us not continue to undervalue the worth of black women to our recovery. Lest we forget that Sandra Lindsay, a black woman was the first person to receive the covid vaccine. Once again, the sacrifice and courage of a black women was the start to our healing. And I’m confident that it will be the efforts of these women we read about today who will save us from ourselves once again. 

While Maryland, much like the nation, will continue to wade through the waters of racial reckoning. We must commit ourselves to standing by and with our sisters as they are being paraded and courted in the public square unlike never before for various pursuits. A President who sees the ultimate value of his potential reelection by the nomination of a woman of color. Yet he callously places her in an early and unnecessary vulnerable place of public scrutiny by showing his hand too soon. And gubernatorial candidates who are forced to seek the protection of women of color to stand as their running mates in a campaign dominated by men. I don’t question their sincerity with any of their respective selections, after all it is politics. What I do know is that all of these women have value and have always had value. And it is our legacy to always see and honor that value in our everyday lives whether they be on the scene or behind the scene. Black Woman; We See You!– 

Rev. Kevin Slayton