Here we go again. More “voter reform” bills from Republican lawmakers who are themselves the ones in desperate need of reform. The voters aren’t the problem.
This latest attempt at voter disenfranchisement comes in the form of a whopping total of 253 bills introduced in more than 43 states since the 2020 election. This is a brazen, coordinated nationwide attempt to make it harder for non-white people to vote, led by vengeful Republican lawmakers who cannot accept how much of a difference those non-white voters made on Election Day 2020.
The bottom line is that Black and Brown votes matter, and that terrifies some Americans. Some of those scared Americans are members of the Michigan Legislature, which is taking up 39 hastily introduced bills that will have a chilling effect on the voting rights of communities of color.
The Republicans who have sponsored these bills — and it is only Republicans who have put their names on these bills — do so under the guise of voter reform. But we know that is simply code for “time to reduce the number of Black and Brown voters.” It is a naked attempt to codify structural racism and revive the vestiges of Jim Crow.
That is why it is not the voters who need reforming. Members of the Michigan Legislature know what everyone else in America knows who has been paying even the slightest amount of attention; there was no voter fraud on Election Day last November. Voters — Black, Brown and white — sent a strong message that hope is stronger than hate. These voters are more than the color of their skin. These voters represent America, in all of its diversity, in all of its aspirations, and in all of its yet-to-be-realized promises of equity and inclusion. These are the voters who spoke up and spoke out at the ballot box.
But too many of those who have been elected to represent their fellow Americans are refusing to do so. America is calling but they refuse to pick up the phone because this isn’t the America they recognize, so instead, they feign deafness.
This is why I support the Detroit NAACP’s Rally to Protect Voting Rights and End Voter Suppression, taking place at noon on Tuesday, April 13, in Lansing on the steps of the State Capitol. This rally is to protest those 39 bills and the entire rising tide of racism and hateful thinking that is pushing back against the future — and against the Big Lie that provided the fuel for these bills in the first place.
Sadly, we have been down this road too many times. Yet we must go there again, because the fight for justice and civil rights is ongoing. The minute we rest is the minute we lose ground. Although Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. talked about the Promised Land, the truth is that there is no such thing for the living. The struggle continues because the possibility of a truly just and equal society is too much of a threat to too many powerful interests. Those interests never settle for less if they can have more.
Those Michigan legislators pushing for the passage of those 39 bills aren’t even bothering to hide behind hoods and sheets because their like-minded motives are clear as day, crippling the struggle for equality by any means necessary. Historically in America, whenever those in power saw their majority shrinking and their hold on absolute power threatened, and when they realized they could not maintain their hold on that power by the moral force of their corrupted argument, they opted for playing dirty rather than devising stronger arguments with better ideas.
This is why we must again exercise the collective power of our voice to fight back against these attempts to turn back the clock to the time of Black codes, poll taxes, and strange fruit hanging from the trees. The only way we win is when we all realize that a threat to any one of our rights as citizens is a threat to all of our rights as citizens.
Voter suppression doesn’t just threaten Black America, it threatens to unravel the entire nation.
For more information about the Lansing rally, go to www.detroitnaacp.org or call 313-871-2087.