Adrienne Spinner is a stay-at-home mom of two and a community advocate. Her political experience began with a run for her county’s Board of Education. Even though she did not win her race, the connections that Adrienne made during her campaign turned out to be an invaluable step in continuing her advocacy. Are you a Black woman in politics, read on to hear more of Adrienne's story.
Two years ago, I “tripped and fell into politics”. I like using that expression when telling this story because politics is a world that I never wanted to be in. I've been an informed and consistent voter. I've occasionally volunteered in my community. But, that was pretty much it. At my first go at college, I studied Biology - but after graduating and taking a year to decide what was next, I realized a career in medicine wasn't meant for me.
I went back to school, studied African dance and culture, graduated (again), thought about different artistic career paths, got married, had a kid, and tried to start a wedding planning business. Yeah, I lacked focus...
Fast forward to February of 2018, and I wondered if being a stay-at-home mom of now two was IT for my life. Maybe it was the fact that I was approaching 40. Maybe it was because my business never really took off. Maybe it was because I was pissed off at the state of the world and wanted to do something. Whatever it was, I found myself at the county Board of Elections to file to run for the local school board. I wanted to dip my toe into this whole thing by attending a precinct meeting and getting to know some folks – well, those folks told the Chair of the county Democratic Party about me, and she called that morning to ask me to run! I tried to think of every excuse to say NO.
But, at the end of the day, I had asked God to show me "something more" for my life; and…well…He answered. While my two-year-old sat in a chair in her pajamas (I had to move quickly after saying yes), joyfully tossing things out of my purse, I took a leap of faith - after which I returned to my car, strapped her into her seat, and dry-heaved for 10 minutes.
I wanted to advocate for teachers, and fight for diverse and inclusive public schools all while being called a "bored housewife that decided to get into politics".
I'll spare you the gory details, but I spent the next 3 months trying to sell my platform to people who had no idea who I was while fighting against an opponent that had all of the time, money, and connections she could get. I wanted to advocate for teachers, and fight for diverse and inclusive public schools while being called a "bored housewife that decided to get into politics". I ran myself to the bone, gained 15 pounds, stressed my entire family out, and lost my primary race. I was devastated. I was exhausted. But mostly, I felt really guilty. My husband had to work a full-time job and be a stay-at-home dad. My daughters missed me and didn't understand that Mommy was trying to do her small part to change the world. I felt like I wasted everyone's time and sanity, and had nothing to show for it. And the worst part? I felt guilty because I didn't want to simply return to the way things were.
I may not have become a politician, but I became an advocate; and honestly, it's a lot more freeing. Plus, folks took notice. I stuck around the local party and got elected Second Vice-Chair. A state representative, who I met while campaigning, recommended me to serve in an appointed role on the North Carolina Council for Women. I have connected with a few county and state-level advocacy groups, where I enjoy volunteering.
I am a Black Woman: we're unapologetically badass beings, but we still sit at the intersection of racism and sexism.
I felt like I have new purpose in life. I could still love being at home with my girls, without feeling like my only role in life was breaking up arguments over Paw Patrol. I could use my growing influence to advocate for marginalized populations. After all, that includes me. I am a Black Woman: we're unapologetically badass beings, but we still sit at the intersection of racism and sexism. So, I decided to take this moment by the neck and shake this system to its core. I'm in good company, too because the most important thing the past two years have taught me is that I am surrounded by strong, powerful, nurturing Black women that work day-in and day-out for our community. The more they inspire me, the more I work to grow as an advocate -knowing that there are two little ones watching closely nearby. There's a method to this madness.
We're now halfway through probably the most psychotic year ever. My husband and I are blessed to be able to work from home. I am trying my best to teach my girls the importance of being advocates. They're actually pretty receptive to it, and have gotten used to "Mommy arguing with people on Zoom". I tell them that it's important to give a damn about others and to try and create a world that affirms everyone. I also tell them that they are magical Black women whose voices need to be heard. I truly believe that their generation will flip the script for the better- it's up to me to lay a foundation and empower them.
Things suck right now, and I don't want to make light of the suffering that many in this country are going through. COVID has thrown a glaring spotlight on injustices that are woven deeply throughout every aspect of society. These times provide us with an opportunity to rebuild systems in an equitable way, to create a new normal that works for all of us. A very daunting task that will not be solved overnight, or even in our generation. The good thing is that women - especially Black women - are built to fight generation to generation. If we work to elevate the most vulnerable of humanity, then all of us rise. And don't women have that magical distinction of nurturing all of humanity?
I didn't grow up in an environment that celebrated my uniqueness. I wasn't taught to be unapologetically Black, with everything that comes along with it. Feeling proud in this skin, and - as John Lewis said - "getting in the way" is a new feeling for me. I am determined to not continue this cycle with my daughters. They might be too young to remember this time as more than a crazy year of being stuck at home with Mom, Dad, online school, and Hello Kitty face masks - but I am continuing to sow the seeds of activism and Black pride. I pray that they will see how the world is being made better by the collective efforts of many and that Black women are leading the way.
As I grow into my new purpose, I encourage you to celebrate yourself! Celebrate the blessings that surround you and the blessing that YOU are. Take up space! Blackness is revolutionary. Black joy and self-love are liberation. No matter where you are in life, it is never too late to advocate, organize, and to do your part. You don't have to do all the things. But you can be magical in whatever spot in the world you occupy, and you can teach the next generation to do the same. If I do nothing else in this life but raise these two chocolate babies into magical, strong, Black women that lift others as they rise, I will have considered my time here a success.
NC Council for Women, Advisory Board Member
Guilford County Democratic Party, Second Vice Chair
ERA-NC Alliance, Board of Directors