Black women leaders have been
working on this issue of voting rights, calling for the passage of
the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, the Freedom to Vote Act, the Build
Back Better Reconciliation Act, and DC Statehood. Several leaders,
including Melanie Campbell, CEO of the National Coalition of Black
Civic Participation, and Janice Mathis, Executive Director of the
National Council of Negro Women, were arrested a couple of weeks ago.
On November 16, the women took their energy to the Supreme Court,
walking from the NCNW headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue to the
ought to be a no-brainer that the same country that invades other
people’s countries around human rights and voting rights would
provide the same rights for its own citizens. Predatory capitalism,
however, makes the voting-rights blocking filibuster essential to
those who would extract every penny of surplus value from other
citizens. How else can we explain the resistance to managing drug
prices, raising the minimum wage, or blocking the right to vote? The
big-money politics game makes it easy enough for deep-pocketed
corporations to purchase a senator to protect their interests.
Grassroots efforts, like the NCNW/NCBPC (with many allies) efforts,
are less well funded than some of these senators are, and they may be
less influential. Republicans with consciences surely know that
voting is an essential right, however, too many of them want to win
at all costs, eschewing fairness for power.
like a chicken and egg thing. Republicans (yes, let’s call it
as it is) want to suppress the vote so they can keep getting elected.
Once elected, they continue to manipulate the system with
gerrymandering that is designed to minimize the electoral influence
of those who oppose the predatory capitalist agenda. This includes
Black folks, Chicano/Latina folks, American Indians, senior citizens,
and those who live in inner cities. These voters, certainly, aren’t
a monolith, but voters of color are treated monolithically and
sidelined in the same way. Voting rights legislation might pass, but
for the filibuster.
why can’t we get eliminate the filibuster? Some Democrats want
to embrace the traditions of the past, even though those traditions
allow the minority to ride rough-shod over the majority. President
Biden, whose legislation has been blocked by the filibuster, only
recently signaled some willingness to get rid of the filibuster in
some cases. He should have spoken up sooner, and more loudly. Though
more than 60 percent of Americans support the Build Back Better
legislation, just two recalcitrant Senators have been able to hold up
the vote. Now, as we head into the holiday season, the window to pass
this legislation is closing. In my opinion, neither the House nor the
Senate deserves time off until voting rights legislation is passed.
many of us seem to forget that we are the BOSSES, not the serfs, of
these members of the House and the Senate. We can kick them to the
curb as viciously as they’ve kicked us. We have powerful Black
women leaders who are urging us to take our power back, rejecting
incumbents who don’t have our interests at heart. Our work, our
serious work, is to vet these incumbents and send them home when it
don’t do that. We tend to reelect incumbents because we are
used to them, because we feel close to them, because they’ve
been to our schools, because they’ve done a town hall, because
they are friendly and personable. As personable as some of them are,
if they don’t support economic justice, they are just a waste
of space. They are sitting in an elected seat that someone else might
better use to serve people.
rights and economic justice are inextricably intertwined. We won’t
get fair wages, good labor laws, student loan forgiveness, child
care, or more progressive economic legislation until we get the right
to vote, because there are those who would offer rights like goodies
on a snack plate, goodies they can easily take back. It is absurd
that a nation that brags about democracy fails to provide it for too
many of its citizens.
are shameless in their grab for power. We have to be aggressive in
our resistance. We cannot have economic justice without voting
rights. Kudos to the Black women who are fighting for our rights.