Why Black Women Can’t Always Save You: The Dangers of Georgia’s Voter Suppression Laws

Since the 2016 election, there has been this narrative constructed that Black women “save” elections and therefore “save” our country from tyranny and ruin. Even though the Democratic nominee did not win in the 2016 presidential election, we saw Black women turn-out in record numbers with over 90% of us voting for the Democratic candidate. Then just this past year, in the 2020 presidential election, we saw Black women match those numbers and play key roles in flipping traditionally red states to get President Joe Biden elected. Thank you Stacey Abrams. 

With all of this praise and gratitude from the country, you would think that the plight of being a Black woman would lessen in our society and that we would see a movement towards lessening the various burdens we face. But in true American fashion, that’s not the case.

On Mar. 25, we saw Georgia Congress Representative Park Cannon being arrested for knocking on the governor’s door to stop the signing of a voter suppression bill. According to CNBC, this new bill “adds a new photo ID requirement to vote absentee by mail, gives the State Election Board new powers to remove and replace local election officials, prohibits people from giving water and snacks to people waiting in line, and makes some changes to early voting, among other things.” This bill is voter suppression at its finest. These voter suppression laws will make it exceedingly harder for people of color to vote in the upcoming elections. After seeing the success of Black women mobilizing to get Georgia voters registered to vote and send in their ballots early, Republican Georgians decided that that’s not the path they would like to go down in the future; free and fair elections.

The incident with Rep. Cannon demonstrates an interesting paradox: the same Georgia that Black women are considered “rockstars” in is the same Georgia that is actively planning for their demise. It ignited a profound revelation within me. As Black women, we’re supposed to be the saviors of this country despite there being every effort to make sure our voices are not heard. We’re expected to fight tooth and nail, win the fight, and then never receive the rewards from our efforts. Then, we have to do it all over again because we don’t really have a choice. If we don’t advocate for ourselves and others, we suffer, but even when we do advocate, we still suffer. It’s a catch 22.

So, what is the solution? Feminism. If white women put more energy into helping Black women advocate for voting equality, then maybe we would see some change. White women can use their privilege to be opinion leaders and use their resources and power to ensure that Black women are not fighting these battles on our own. It takes speaking up and supporting Black women when they are being challenged by a racist white patriarchal system. It means exhibiting true solidarity. But until then, Black women will not always be able to save you from this cyclical process of oppression because we will get tired and you will regret it.

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