Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib condemns attack on Black Voters

Some of the right-wing protesters banging on the windows during the ballot counting process in Detroit. PHOTO/Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press.

PTLN 11/21/20

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib condemns the attack on Black Voters 

Letter to supporters from Michigan’s Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib:

My congressional district is in the spotlight right now, as the latest center of Republican attacks on Black voters.

In coordination with the Michigan Republican Party, the GOP members on Wayne County’s Board of Canvassers tried an unprecedented tactic to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of people, specifically voters from majority-Black Detroit.

But they changed their minds late Tuesday night, unanimously voting to certify the election results after hundreds of our county’s residents spoke up for our democracy and our rights during the county Board of Canvassers’ public comment session.

However, in a shocking turn of events, Trump personally called the two GOP Board members on Wednesday—after which they requested to rescind their pro-certification votes.

And he just summoned GOP state leaders to the White House today, in a last-ditch effort to convince them to disenfranchise not just Detroit voters, but millions of voters throughout the state. We’re urging Michiganders to attend a virtual meeting on Monday, where the Board of State Canvassers will vote on the certification of the election results.

Right now is a time for all of us to stay vigilant and pay attention to the disturbing anti-Black narrative Republicans are pushing.

The Trump campaign’s strategy has targeted majority-Black cities across the country with baseless charges of voter fraud, laying the groundwork for further suppression in the future. And just two weeks ago, we saw the consequences of feeding white people’s fears about Black power: Angry, primarily white mobs showed up to intimidate primarily Black election workers at Detroit’s TCF Center as votes were being counted.

I want to share an account from Detroiter Khalilah Burt Gaston, who was there. She told the Detroit Free Press:

“I think for me personally, one of the most difficult or emotional aspects of this was seeing older Black women who were trying to do their jobs being physically intimidated by white men and women. So you consider the optics of being in a room with Black people who were working and having white people stand over them too close, hollering and accusing them of not doing their jobs, it definitely for me had the optics of what we see and what our ancestors experienced as they were enslaved.”

It seems like a truly traumatizing experience.

Gaston also suggested that white people should ask themselves, “Why do I believe Black people are inherently bad, why do I feel entitled to question and berate Black people? The idea that Black people are inherently guilty is the same sentiment that leads to Black people being shot by the police.

She’s right. And in our city, the Detroit police stood aside while white mobs disrupted the ballot counting process—very different from violently assaulting, running over, and tear gassing Black Lives Matter activists without provocation.

Now, the City is suing Detroit Will Breathe protesters, an unthinkable assault on people’s constitutional rights. Instead of finding ways to resolve the issues raised by protesters, or even holding police accountable for unprovoked attacks on the public, the City may waste $200,000 of our taxpayer dollars to punish Detroit Will Breathe for speaking out about injustices.

This week I spoke out in the Detroit Free Press, explaining I cannot in good conscience remain silent as people’s rights are being trampled. I can’t sit by while a whole movement centered on my Black neighbors’ ability to live and thrive is being demonized.

In Congress, many moderate Democrats are also trying to stifle and dismiss the Black Lives Matter movement. We just won the White House and they’re already turning their backs on our party’s base, including marginalized people most in need of urgent change.

As leaders from the Movement For Black Lives’ Electoral Justice Project wrote in ESSENCE:

This [Biden-Harris] win is the result of Black voters and allies in cities like Detroit, Milwaukee, Atlanta and Phoenix, people who were tired of having to fight for the rights and resources we all deserve, and Biden, along with the democratic establishment, owe us all a thank you.”

Here in our majority-Black district, one of the poorest in the country, my residents walked by blighted homes and closed schools while breathing in polluted air, to vote for President-elect Joe Biden and VP-elect Kamala Harris. We are a frontline community that can’t wait any longer for meaningful change on all fronts, from poverty to systemic racism to clean air and water.

We can’t be silenced anymore. For true change to happen at the pace it needs to, our party must embrace our base and honor the communities that show up for us time and again.

As leaders from Movement For Black Lives’ Electoral Justice Project explain: “It was the organizing, power-building and electoral strategy of Black people and those fighting in defense of Black lives, who won Biden and Harris The White House.”

They understandably want acknowledgment from the Biden-Harris administration, “but more importantly an open door and willingness to do the hard work that’s necessary to making this nation a safer, more just place for Black people.”

Heck yes! I’m here for that hard and necessary work, as are my colleagues in our growing squad in Congress. Now we’ve got to make sure the rest of our party gets on board and listens to the people involved in our nation’s largest-ever uprisings for justice.

Can you share this tweet from the Movement For Black Lives, so more people see this important message?

This election season, our team in Michigan’s 13th congressional district connected with potential voters, many of whom have been left out of the political process. We are fighting to ensure the voices in our district are heard and counted.

We must show people that they matter—not only when it’s election time but year-round. We deserve to be seen and heard, and we deserve a government that works for all of us.

It’s with this spirit of urgency that I returned to Congress this week for the first time since the election, more energized than ever to fight for you. I’m looking forward to updating you about our policy work soon.

If you can, please chip in today to support our ongoing efforts to finally make our country a place of freedom and justice for all.

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Thank you for all you do. We’re in this together, and our power is growing.

– Rashida

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Some of the right-wing protesters banging on the windows durin gthe ballot counting process. PHOTO/Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press.

 

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