Black People Are Tired of “Saving America”

White+liberals+in+America+often+praise+Black+voters+for+saving+America+after+they+mobilize+to+vote+in+a+close+election.+But+the+systemic+voter+supression+that+keeps+Black+voters+from+voting+in+the+first+place+is+rarely+discussed.

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White liberals in America often praise Black voters for “saving America” after they mobilize to vote in a close election. But the systemic voter supression that keeps Black voters from voting in the first place is rarely discussed.

Alessandra Ashford, Reporter

Voter suppression has existed in the United States since the first ballot was cast. The most notorious form of voter suppression was the enforcement of Jim Crow Laws in the South. Various Jim Crow laws, such as the poll tax and literacy tests, worked to disenfranchise Black voters. While this era might feel disconnected from the current state of U.S politics after the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, systemic voter suppression is still prevalent in American elections.

In fact, here in Texas, voters of color were more likely than white voters to have their ballots rejected in the March 2022 primary due to S.B. 1, a bill intended to ensure election security.. According to a study from Brennan Law Center, one of the measures included in S.B. 1 requires voters to list their ID number on the mail ballot application and the envelope containing the ballot.

Even though voters of color were least likely to request a mail-in ballot, their ballots were rejected 47% more. In fact, voters of color were most likely to have their mail-in ballot applications rejected in the first place. S.B.1 also requires that voters provide either a partial Social Security number or a driver’s license number on their application for a mail-in ballot, and that number has to match the identification on their voter registration. Many voters may not remember what I.D they provided on their registration, especially if they registered years ago. This law has led to many voters having their mail- in ballot applications rejected, and their vote disenfranchised.

Communities of color are also systematically disenfranchised when it comes to voting. According to an ACLU study, counties with larger minority populations typically had fewer polling places and less poll workers. In 2018, Black and Latino Americans were twice as likely to not be able to get off work to vote. Another study from Brennan Law Center found that Latino voters experience 46% wait times than white voters, and Black voters experience 45% more, due to lack of resources, such as fewer poll workers. The study also found that more resources were given to an average county that had more white voters, even when higher-minority-population counties needed those resources.

Practices like redlining and gerrymandering in communities have also disproportionately affected voters of color. Gerrymandering is the process of political parties manipulating district lines in their favor. Gerrymandering has been used to pack minority voters into one district to decrease their influence elsewhere. Redlining, a racial segregation tactic used to keep Black people out of suburban neighborhoods by refusing to insure mortgages in and near Black neighborhoods. This still affects communities today even after being banned under the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

Laws and practices like this across the country are calculated and targeted attempts at suppressing voters of color under the cowardly cover of election security and equality. All this does is add on to the deep systemic history of voter suppression in America that continues to affect millions of voters every election. Many claim that there’s not a need for our systems to improve, that racism has been weeded out of our government. Clearly though, that is not the case.

This is why white allyship means nothing without authenticity. When white “allies” praise Black voters for “saving America” while millions of ballots cast by voters of color didn’t count, it does nothing but fuel their own egos. If anything, it shows their undeniable privilege.

Black people in America can not afford to be inauthentic in their movements. This is our lives. When Black voters mobilize to vote, it is not to “save America”, it is to protect our lives and our community as a whole. Meanwhile, white people get to be as fake or “authentic” as they see fit, and their lives don’t change. The outcome of their actions only ends up affecting the communities they claim to support.

White liberals love to thank Black women after a Democrat wins a close election. White liberals praised Black voters for being the reason Biden won in the 2020 presidential election. White liberals praised Stacey Abrams for helping to mobilize voters in Georgia in 2020 all while ignoring the restrictive voting laws that were passed in Georgia after the controversy surrounding the laws died down. White liberals praise Black voters when Black voter turnout makes an election go in their favor, but any other time they are not interested in using all that energy to end the systemic racism that puts Black voters at a systemic disadvantage. Even if these white liberals truly believe change is being done, it’ll only be surface level for the Black community.

Inauthentic allies disrespect those in the community that have fought and are still fighting for the movement that they claim to support. Inauthentic allies disrespect all those who have been hurt or even died because of the injustice that affects their communities. Posting black squares to Instagram and supporting a movement until it’s Twitter hashtag isn’t trending anymore, exploits the Black community’s struggle for a couple of likes. If allies don’t actually do anything to educate themselves or examine how they perpetuate white supremacy, they disrespect all those that have died from the racism and white supremacy that runs rampant across America and affects communities of color every day. Voter suppression will only continue as this ignorance does.