For the last three or so years, voter suppression has become a buzz term in political circles A more accurate description would be Black voter suppression. Instead of Jim Crow-era poll tax, literacy tests, and other subjective strategies for stymieing the Black vote; today we have voter ID laws, relocating polling places away from Black communities, early poll closings, and a host of other tactics. Each one is intended to ensure the Black vote doesn’t determine the outcome of an election.
If voter suppression is working, don’t we have an obligation to ask ourselves, as Black voters why?
Can the Black community combat primarily GOP moves of closing polling places, requiring identification, and changing voting hours? Of course, we can but, why aren’t we? We know what the impediments are right now. That means we should be organizing personal transportation for those who no longer have nearby or convenient polling locations. The community also should start working to ensure that every person who doesn’t have a state ID gets one long before voting begins.
If that is not the work of organizations such as the NAACP, then surely there are community orgs that can pick up the mantle. None of the counter-actions are terribly expensive or need an organizing guru to pull off. We’ve become expert at complaining about what is being done to us, even though there was ample opportunity to blunt those actions. It is almost as though some of us enjoy being victims.
Seven decades ago and earlier, Black people had a much, much rougher time and far fewer opportunities to vote. They seemed energized en masse at the notion someone was blocking a constitutional right. They were without all of the conveniences, resources, and laws we enjoy today. Our computer-assisted voting strategies pale in comparison to their basement meeting, word-of-mouth methods.
Voter suppression will be a movement based on sand should Black people decide to collaborate, strategize and implement several campaigns to get our souls to the polls, as the old preacher said.