For a group of people who pride themselves on being committed to racial, economic, and environmental justice, a different ego has emerged from progressives and liberals alike during the week of the 2020 Presidential Election. Both political ideologies created a campaign of “kindness, justice, and equity” to vote Trump out of the White House, but they failed to deliver the same message in a time where it was needed most: election week. During the week of the election, a social media cleanse was not only needed to avoid false information on voter fraud, but to deter the inhumanity perpetrated by so-called progressives and liberals in battleground states, mostly located in the South and the Midwest.
Tweets flourished on the Internet stating Florida should drown as a result of climate change or that the South deserved COVID-19, natural disasters, and poverty for tilting red in the election results. In addition to the cruelty and apathy targeted at these regions of the country, these comments are covertly driven by racism and elitism because they ignore the decades-long impact of redlining, gerrymandering, and voter suppression on BIPOC communities and progressive grassroots movements in these regions. If you are celebrating President Joe Biden’s win, you owe it to Black women, Black organizers, and the Indigenous community.
Hoping that the South experiences more natural disasters or wishing the water crisis in Midwestern cities like Flint, Michigan never are resolved is inherently racist because as of 2017, 58% of the U.S.’s Black population live in the South, as well as make up 57% of the population in Flint. Not only do a majority of Black people live in these states, but many are occupied by poverty-stricken communities that are also disproportionately bearing the adverse effects of climate change. The insincerity is nothing less than jarring as individuals from blue states can freely joke about innocent Black and brown communities dying from natural disasters brought on by the climate crisis when they also claim to be advocates for environmental justice. It seems that liberals and progressives come to echo the concerns of marginalized communities when a political scapegoat is needed, but when the time comes to engage with BIPOC who need support and connections, they are nowhere to be found. These individuals then end up targeting BIPOC lives more through alienation instead of coming for the group who actually voted for Trump – white men, who made up 58 percent of the former President’s electoral votes.
Progressives are illuminating the decree of liberal elitism by continuously preaching on protecting marginalized lives, but failing to see how the underfunding of education, gerrymandering, voter suppression, and the electoral college itself in these “red” states suppresses the votes of Black and brown communities. When these states turn red, the voter rhetoric is then throttled at these same marginalized communities without acknowledging the work that Black and brown organizers have been doing for years to support themselves.
In this post-election season, it is time to move beyond acting and believing that the South is an embodiment of racism as a means to feel superior as it creates the notion that Northerners are not. Racism exists in all structures and despite it all, states like Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania still flipped because of Black and brown female organizers. It is time to put the classist and derogatory remarks behind, and start supporting Southerners who are going above and beyond to make circumstances better for their people.
Stacey Abrams became one of the most prominent figures in tackling voter suppression after her election bid for governor ended in scathing marks of suppression that affected a majority of Black voters in Georgia. Abrams immediately got to work by launching Fair Fight – an organization that registered 800,000 first-time voters over the last two years by dedicating itself to voter rights and fighting voter suppression. Fair Fight also focused on voter education and pushed against Republican-led efforts to limit vote-by-mail efforts. Other organizations like the Black Voters Matter fund targeted more than 15 states by sending buses on road trips all over the nation. Similar to Abram’s work, the organization reached more than 500,000 voters and sent out nearly two million text messages about their mission. Black registration increased by 40% as a result of implementing statewide automatic voter registration when obtaining or renewing state IDs. The Black community has again proven its power through its vote, and we are expecting a follow-through from the Biden-Harris Administration to address systemic racism in all institutions through our electing of him.
When CNN referred to Native Americans as “something else” on its voter demographic poll, it did little to emphasize the importance of Indigenous people’s vote in Arizona, despite how COVID-19 has disproportionately hurt their communities. Groups such as VoteAmerica, Four Directions, Rural Utah Project, and the Nez administration worked directly with Navajo Nation and community partners to mobilize the Indigenous vote. From grassroots effort, both the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe saw 116% voter turnout compared to 2016. So CNN, that “something else” is another key player in handing Biden the presidency –– you have to say the names of the organizers in Native Organizers Alliance, Inter-Tribal Council, and Diné C.A.R.E next time.
If it has not been clear enough yet, the real winner of the election is Black women across the country, but more specifically in Detroit, Flint, Atlanta, and Philadelphia. This election is for Indigenous people, women, people of the LGBTQ+ community, Latinx people, Muslim-Americans, and other Americans fighting for change. It is a time to breathe, but what we do now after the election and inauguration matters most. Keep supporting grassroots movements like the Navajo/Hopi COVID Relief Fund, The Queer Detainee Empowerment Project, National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, or the Sunrise Movement, because the fight is far from over. Handing the presidency to a Democrat does not signal a post-racial world when marginalized people have yet to see liberation. Do not go back to ignoring issues simply because they do not affect you –– no one is free until we are all free.