The 2022 midterms are going to be interesting. A total of 34 seats will be up for grabs, 20 Republicans and 14 Democrats. Of the 20 Republicans, 6 are retiring, making those 6 seats wide open. To prepare for these upcoming races, Republicans across the country are busily passing laws that limit voting, in essence suppressing the votes of many of their citizens. They are not even trying to be coy about it either. In Georgia, for example, eliminating early voting on Sundays directly targets a strong group of voting proponents: Black churches. The New York Times reported from St. Philip Monumental A.M.E. church in Savannah, which was heavily involved in the “souls to the polls” movement in 2020. They loaded their church vans and buses with people and helped them get to the polls to vote. They also assisted parishioners with navigating absentee voting. The new laws in Georgia will effectively eliminate this help, and people are not happy about it.
“The only reason you see these bills is because they lost,” said Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, who oversees 534 A.M.E. churches in Georgia. “What makes it even more troubling than that is there is no other way you can describe this other than racism, and we just need to call it what it is.” Bishop Jackson is right. This push by Republican legislatures is openly suppressing the Black vote, a vote which traditionally goes to Democrats. This suppression is in line with the Republican creed: If we cannot win fairly, we must ensure that their supporters cannot vote. Why? Republicans have done nothing for people, even the people who continue to blindly vote for them. It is all about power for them. They literally want to rule the world without even a thought that the majority wants nothing to do with their failed policies that only benefit the wealthy and corporations. It is amazing that they continue to elevate corporations when corporations would be nothing without the people who work for them. When asked for comment by the Times, the Republican sponsor of this bill declined. He knows what he is doing, and he knows it is wrong. How do we stop them?
Southern Poverty Law Center (“SPLC”) has a voting rights arm that is actively involved in organizing. The organization provided $12 million to voter outreach organizations and is currently offering $10 million. If you are part of or aware of any such organizations, please direct them to the SPLC grant application. For those who are just interested in getting involved, many organizations exist that can help, including Civic Nation and Southern Coalition for Social Justice. Suppression begins at the local level. Get involved and work to elect local leaders who reflect the interests of the majority. Getting involved will seem daunting. It will take time, effort, and dedication, but it will be worth it. To give up is to acquiesce to “leaders” like Roger Wicker of Mississippi, who praised the American Rescue Plan after refusing to vote for it. We cannot allow people like this to make the rules for the rest of us.
Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years