#FLIPTHE6: A MANIFESTATION OF BEING FED-UP
Written by Nayazha Coleman
Have you ever felt like the people in your community don’t want you there? Has it crossed your mind that “home” isn’t safe for you? Has walking alone, or walking after dark, ever been a frightening experience for you? What if all of these are true, but because of the color of your skin. If you haven’t, then welcome to your privilege, and if you have my heart goes out to you. I feel your pain and certain times of year that pain seems to be intensified by a tragic attack, a senseless killing of a person of color, or a U.S. political election. In this particular case, the political election in reference is a special election currently happening in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.
The nation has been watching District 6 to get the scoop on how people are feeling about “45”s actions in office, and most have the assumption that this will set the tone for our regularly scheduled elections in 2018. The race for this seat has been coined the “most expensive House race in U.S. history” and has been quite the page turner. In other words, it’s been going DOWN.
I live in District 6 and have driven by Jon Ossoff campaign signs that were vandalized and spray painted with phrases such as "STOP OSSOFF" or "DORK.” As childish as this is, I believe it sheds light on a major problem within the Conservative “Make America Great Again” supporters. A part of what makes our country a democracy is that we are supposed to believe the people should vote for who they think would best advocate on their behalf. We should encourage our fellow citizens to run for office and be apart of the political process if this country is really “for the people, by the people.” The point shouldn’t be to intimidate the other side not to vote or to drop out of the race, yet, Republicans have tried many methods to suppress those with diverse opinions to participate.
A federal lawsuit was filed by a Washington-based advocacy group calling Georgia out for violating federal law by reducing the amount of time residents had to register to vote in the special election run-off. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law joined forces with 5 civil and voting rights organizations to file a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. If it were left up to Secretary of State Brian Kemp, anyone who had not registered to vote in March couldn’t register to participate in the June runoff between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel.
When the presidential election was in full force a specific pocket of residents felt particularly emboldened to show their support for their favorite candidate (“45”), while the few families of color that live in the district did not have that same luxury. Each day we would be forced to drive by hundreds of Trump signs to get in and out of our neighborhoods. Each day these constituents, myself included, chose to respect people’s property and political opinions despite the (very real) reasons we had to feel fearful, concerned, and insulted. There wasn't one sign posted in the neighborhood in support of another candidate from my home in East Cobb to the main road.
The fear of retaliation made me skeptical to show support for another candidate without having the proper protection of my property in place, and now I know I was right to be suspicious of the people in the most affluent sector of the District. Jessica W., an Ossoff supporter who [also] lives in the Marietta, East Cobb part of the district, told The Atlanta Journal Constitution she’s had signs ripped up repeatedly.
“I have now lost eight Ossoff signs, as every time I put them out in my yard someone steals them within 24 hours or rips them up and leaves them there,” she said. “Karen Handel signs are abundant.”
Our voices have been silenced by the Jurassic roar of Conservative groupthink in our own neighborhoods. What troubles me is that people finally feel empowered to express a differing, more democratic, opinion but that has been met with both silent and aggressive intimidation.
The nation is watching District 6. What will they see?