I think we can all reflect back to an instance in life in which we opted to bow out gracefully, either to save face or because we couldn’t envision a direct path to a win.
Stacey Abrams, the presumed winner of the Georgia Democratic gubernatorial primary race, was faced with this precise quandary.
Last night she made history as the first black woman to become a major party nominee for governor in this country.
I remember catching a glimpse of Abrams on MSNBC’s “AM Joy” with Joy-Anne Reid sometime after Hillary Clinton lost.
Abrams had been introduced to the world as a long-shot candidate when you think of the deeply embedded history of racism in the South, but one that also stood a slim chance as she was riding the metaphorical Blue Wave.
A string of Democratic candidates in gubernatorial, Senate, and congressional races were winning everywhere because voters were fired up by our current racist regime.
Surely, Abrams would also automatically benefit from being a proponent of the Blue Wave, right? Not so fast.
Superficially, she didn’t stand a chance—Abrams has short, kinky hair; she’s full-figured, her skin is Hershey’s hued; and she ran in Georgia.
A few months into her campaign the opposition hoisted her financial status up as a liability, deeming it a disqualifying factor in her push for governor. Abrams is $200,000 dollars in debt and explained in an editorial for Fortune that student loans and family hardships landed her there. Still, transparency wasn’t enough.
Next, another hurdle came in the form of another candidate named Stacey. The white Stacey (Evans) was new to voters but perceived to be a sure bet because Abrams was suddenly too risky. Some voters were thinking about the midterm long game and felt black Stacey might not be able to pull it off.
But after each bump in the road and each call to drop out the race, Abrams persevered. And she won.
I’m so inspired by Abrams’ courage and dedication to the fight.
Her campaign is a teachable moment for Black women everywhere: When the odds are stacked up against you, do like Abrams did and keep going.