Dear Stacey Abrams,
For everything, I mean.
The odds were never in your favor. This is the South, where Confederate flags and Stone Mountain and mass lynching are part of the soil. This is Georgia. We haven’t had a democratic governor since 2003. This is the United States. Never, ever has there been a black woman governor anywhere. This is the United States, where people would rather see the brunette who thinks New Hampshire is in the Northwest in office than someone who looks like you or me.
You were running against the man in charge of elections for the state of Georgia, for heaven’s sake.
On Nov. 5, 2018, I felt like throwing up. This is what I wrote in my journal:
If you really want to understand vulnerability, picture this: an 18-year-old black girl standing in line in an elementary school to cast her very first vote for the very first black woman major party nominee for governor in all the United States. If you want to understand vulnerability, picture voter registration tables at mosques’ Friday services, phone banking at women’s colleges, voter protection hotline trainings. I am an 18-year-old young woman about to vote for the very first time, and I can’t shake this feeling in the pit of my stomach that no matter how many words I write, people I register to vote, miles I march, or tears I cry, the bad guys will always win. I was 8 years old when the grown folks in my country elected Obama, and I remember my mom crying tears of joy and my best friend being disappointed the next morning, but not much else. The memory of 2016, however, sits right there clear as day in the front of my mind.
When I think of vulnerability — when I think of bravery — I think of you and millions of your supporters pouring your time, energy, heart, sweat, and money into a cause that many would deem hopeless all for your unwavering love of Georgia and all that it can be — a place where you don’t have to worry about getting gunned down in schools, where pre-K is available to all, and where everyone has the right to participate equally in democracy.
I watched as adults in my life took time away from their day jobs to send texts and build that dream of what Georgia can be. I adored seeing how, more than anything, a good voter registration drive or phone banking sesh brought people together — even in the pouring rain. When I turned 18, I became one of a whole demographic of young people who finally decided it was worth it to turn out in record numbers. Your campaign is what made me finally feel proud to declare that I am from the state of Georgia.
The race was unfair right from the beginning, and the fact that I became of age to vote in an election that proved so plainly how flawed democracy can be makes me want to scream. You should have won. But you never gave up on the fight. You never gave up on us, even in conceding.
So I guess it’s over for now. We all go home and take stock. I hope you get the chance to sleep tonight? For two hours at least? Maybe watch a little “Grey’s Anatomy”?
You told me that when you were 19, you wanted a better world.
Look around and see how much better the world is for your bravery in the past year.
Look how far we have left to go.
I am 18, and you are a person who gives me hope.
Thank you, Stacey Abrams.
For everything, I mean.
Maya, 18, is not bitter that Barack Obama turned her away after she spent six hours waiting in line in 50-degree weather to see him speak at Morehouse College. NOT BITTER AT ALL.