- - Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Stacey Abrams’ political career has been sidetracked, again, but I doubt that will stop her from making unsubstantiated, if not contrived, claims about people of color in our election process.

Ms. Abrams led the nationwide mob, including Major League Baseball, which attacked Georgia’s 2021 election reform law as an effort by “racists” to suppress the vote among people of color like her and me. That stunt cost the majority-Black community of Atlanta around $100 million in lost revenue.

President Biden took Ms. Abrams’ lead and on May 26, 2021, called the new Georgia voting laws “Jim Crow in the 21st Century” and “Jim Crow 2.0.” All these histrionics were based on the fact that the law required voters to present some form of identification before voting and prohibited outside groups from using refreshments as a form of electioneering. Supposedly, these were schemes by the evil Republicans to suppress minority turnout.

The 2022 midterm elections in Georgia disprove Ms. Abrams’ hysterical claims. Voting in Georgia was at an all-time high, especially among people of color. Did that make Ms. Abrams rethink her earlier charges of racism regarding the new Georgia voting law? No; she just changed a few notes in her “woe is me” tune and added a new verse.

Ms. Abrams, seeing the writing on the wall of another election loss, pivoted to say that voter suppression of Black people is not about voter turnout, but rather about “barriers to access.” And just to make sure everyone knew she was a victim, she claimed Black men were particularly susceptible to election “misinformation.” As a Black man, I found her “misinformation” comment particularly desperate and sad, but I won’t waste my time arguing about it.

What I would rather hear Ms. Abrams talk about now are the real “barriers to access” that people of color face today, including many constructed by ourselves.

The initial “barrier” is the continued destruction of the nuclear family, and it is a barrier that impacts all other barriers. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, single-parent homes — typically just the mother — among Blacks increased from 22% to 55% between 1960 and 2013 and today stands at a depressing 65%-70%. Much of the progress Black America made during the 1960s civil rights crusade has effectively been undone by this trend. 

What typically follows from this is poverty and a subsequent “barrier to access” of quality education and parental involvement in that education. In Black America, a lack of quality, sustained education often becomes a vicious cycle leading to more poverty or prison, and sometimes both, especially among young Black men. The young gang members who shot me four years ago near my home in South Chicago — and weeks later killed my best friend and cousin — were entangled in this vicious cycle.

The “barrier to access” of safe communities is growing more dire in this country, especially in urban communities – which is code for “Black neighborhoods.” We all watched in the 2020 Summer of Love as “peaceful protesters” — Black and White — looted, burned, injured and murdered their way through so many communities in America.

Did Stacey Abrams speak out against the growing barrier to safe communities? Of course not — in fact, she justified the violence. 

What’s more, the increasing degradation of Black communities via poverty and crime has helped lead to a “barrier to access” to quality health care in Black communities. And increasingly, there is a “barrier to access” to quality shopping for food and other daily essentials as retailers are saying “No More” to looting, shoplifting and violent crime by moving out of urban areas.

Let’s stop accepting Stacey Abrams’ “theories” and her evolving excuses for her election failures. If she really wants to be the force she so desperately seeks to be, she should take a stand against the very real “barriers to access” afflicting the Black community, drop the falsehoods about voting rights, and stop scapegoating Black men for her political defeat.

It is now clear that Georgia’s new voting laws succeeded in their goal of making it easy to vote and hard to cheat.

• DaQuawn Bruce is the executive director of Concerned Communities for America, a 501(c)(3) advocacy group.

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