With the midterms only a number of weeks away, ELLE.com has partnered with The Brown Girls Guide to Politics podcast for an Instagram Live series highlighting what Politico called “one in all the most important and least appreciated stories of the 2022 election—a surge of Black candidates that stands to reshape national politics for years to come back.” To begin, A’shanti Gholar, the founding father of The BGG and the president of Emerge, a company that recruits and trains Democratic women running for office, spoke to Stacey Abrams, who’s running against Republican Gov. Brian Kemp to be the following governor of Georgia—a rematch of their race in 2018. Back then, Abrams narrowly lost to Kemp, but then reappeared in headlines two years later when her voting rights activism was credited for helping flip Georgia blue within the presidential election. Though she arguably faces an excellent tougher battle this midterms cycle, if Abrams succeeds in November, she’ll be the primary Black woman to be governor in the US. Find abridged portions of their conversation here:
On the importance of Black women running within the 2022 midterm elections
“We began a recent Supreme Court term, and throughout the term, they’ll determine whether sexual orientation is a sound rationale for being covered by public accommodations. Mainly, will states be allowed to disclaim you the suitable to remain in a restaurant, in a hotel, to go right into a business based in your sexual orientation? We all know that earlier this yr, it was the Dobbs decision that stripped one in all their right to decide on. It went from being a federal issue to being a state issue. We all know that voting rights are under attack yet again. There are two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court that may eviscerate the Voting Rights Act once and for all. While you pull all of those together…governors have never mattered more. The truth is that for girls of color, for Black and brown women, we’re the victims of each attack, because these were the laws that allowed us to finally get not only a seat on the table, but to even know where the room was.
So if we will not be the governors, if we will not be the senators, if we will not be present in these spaces, then the only a few rights we’ve been capable of claw back from those that’ve done their level best to disclaim us access, those can be gone, they usually’re not coming back…The urgency of our attention and the importance of our presence has never been more clear or more needed, since the attacks on our freedoms have never been so blatant and so disregarding of our humanity.”
On facing misogyny and racism in politics
“You may have to call it out whenever you see it. My opponent darkened my skin not once, not twice, but in plenty of ads—after which claimed it’s simply because they were using filters. But there may be a protracted and pernicious history within the South that can’t be ignored. And a part of my instinct is, well I’m not going to speak about it, but when it’s raised, I’ve got to handle it. Since it’s not nearly me…In the event that they can get away with it with me, who else will they attack? What else will they do? So whether it’s you that’s the goal or not, we’ve to call it out. Our silence is permission. After we allow people to…abuse our existence, it’s our responsibility to speak about it, because they depend on shame and silence to maintain us from taking motion.”
What it’s been wish to run for governor a second time
“One of the challenges has been that, because more people know my name than the primary time I ran, there’s a presumption that the extent of support needed isn’t the identical. And I’m not talking financial support; people have been incredible. But in 2018, it was the conversation. I used to be brand recent and, due to COVID, due to gun violence, due to Dobbs, due to the attacks, due to just the sheer exhaustion, it’s been hard for people to focus. Individuals are drained. They’ve been in constant political battles since 2016. But that’s a part of the mission. A part of their goal is to exhaust us into submission. And what’s been somewhat harder this time is getting people to get excited, because they’ve seen that even after we get things done, things don’t stay done.
But what I need folks to know is that we’ve been so focused…we’ve elected amazing mayors and city council members and county commissioners, and we’ve done a unprecedented job of getting Kamala Harris and Joe Biden and getting [U.S.] senators. But after we ignore the state level, it’s like ensuring you might have two pieces of bread, but there’s no peanut butter; there’s no jelly. We don’t have that intercessor; we don’t have that connectivity. We’d like governors, because we want someone to be in the center to attach the dots. For me, the concept of not running can have occurred for a few minutes, since it was really embarrassing once I didn’t get the job. But then I remembered why I ran. I didn’t run for fame. I didn’t run for power. I ran for people. And if the people still don’t have what they need, then I don’t have permission to stop working.”