For years, Jemele Hill has thrived at the intersection of sports, entertainment, politics, and pop culture. And prior to Tuesday’s Georgia Senate runoffs, she sat down with Latosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, to discuss how Brown’s organization reached out to thousands of Black voters throughout the state, why so many Black folks are disillusioned by the voting and political process, and the untapped political power of Black folks in the South.
On the latest episode of Spotify’s Jemele Hill is Unbothered, Brown explained the importance of engaging voters during this contentious election season.
“We’ve got to keep people engaged and not lose interest because it’s been a long campaign season,” she said. “And I know that a lot of people are looking at this election cycle at, you know, how it impacts the nation, but it’s been really devastating for Georgia. So the way that we’re keeping people engaged, one, we’re using this momentum kind of creating this atmosphere around the season and literally telling folks what’s at stake so that they really do understand that this ain’t about just like what political parties have power, but this really is about what kind of representation we’ll have for Georgia, a state that we’ve had just super challenging leadership in this state, or the lack thereof, for the last few years. And so a lot of it is really engaging people.”
Brown also discussed the marginalization of Black women within our political infrastructure.
“The fact of the matter is there are women in this country, even when I think, if Maxine Waters had been a white male, she would have been president 20 years ago. Right?” she said. “I think across the board around [sexism] and racism, right, that Black women have been, are even further marginalized. We’re often looked at to carry a sizable amount of weight, right. Because we show up, we do show up and we work, you know, but at the end of the day, when it comes to sensitivity around how we’re represented, we don’t see the same thing.”
And as far as serving as catalysts for change, Brown stressed the importance of the Black vote.
“What it proved to me is the power of possibilities and people who believe in themselves. [...] I think that part of what we underestimate is that governance is only effective when people accept that governance is legitimate,” she said. “And so what we have to do is start pushing people to have a sense of their own power, because let me tell you, this is what I know for sure at the moment: when people in this country say, ‘We are tired of racism, racism we’ll end.’ It ain’t that deep. We acting like you need some magic pill. That ain’t no magic pill.
“So when people in this country decide that everybody can share in the wealth, we will create a system where everybody can be all right. It is possible. It has been done. It can, you know, and so part of what happens is a lack of people really believe in and what is possible. And so even in these elections, the focus for me is not in seeing a win or an electoral win as the end all be all. No, that’s a means to an end, but it’s not an end in itself that ultimately, I want people to start feeling the sense of power.”
For those interested, you can listen to the episode in its entirety on Spotify.