Democrats Court Rural Southern Voters With Stacey Abrams’ State of the Union Response


Democrats Court Rural Southern Voters With Stacey Abrams’ State of the Union Response

By Sharon Austin, Professor of Political Scieence and Director of the African American Studies Program, University of Florida. First published on The Conversation

In a brief, direct and optimistic speech about fighting immigrant scapegoating, racism and voter suppression, Stacey Abrams celebrated diversity in her Democratic rebuttal to Donald Trump’s divisive 2019 State of the Union address.

“We will create a stronger America together,” she said.

Abrams is the first African-American woman to deliver a State of the Union response in the 53-year history of this tradition. She is the first black woman to be nominated by a major party to run for governor. Before that, she was the first African-American ever to serve as House minority leader in the Georgia General Assembly.

Her State of the Union response has increased speculation that she is a rising political starwith a bright future in the Democratic Party.

By choosing Abrams to give the State of the Union response, Democrats were clearly reaching out to African-Americans and women, a key base for the party.

But Abrams’ speech also spoke to an often-overlooked constituency the Democratic Party may not have even thought about when they picked her. It’s a constituency Abrams has already cultivated: rural Southerners of color.

Abrams campaigned in both urban and rural counties last year, defying the logic of a Democratic Party that tends to court big city voters while leaving rural Americans to be won over by Republicans like Donald Trump.

Alyssa Traore + Jessie Bloemendaal Try Racial Reversals Lensed By Marcin Kempski For Vogue Portugal

Alyssa Traore+Jessie Bloemendaal Vogue Portugal Feb 2019 (3).jpg

Dutch models Alyssa Traoré and Jessie Bloemendaal are styled by Sam Ranger in a 1+1=3 editorial ‘Eu Eu Eu’. There is no doubt about the intent of the editorial, once a black model is holding a white mask and vice versa. Alyssa wears primarily white outfits and Jessie black. Perhaps this staging seems too literal to some folks, but given the simmering resentment among large numbers of America’s women of color towards ALL white women, it’s time to spring this Pandora out of her box and give it some daylight.

When people are cornered in all or nothing boxes, based on skin color, progress is tough. Note that neither Democratic primary presidential candidate Kamala Harris or barely-defeated Democratic Georgia governor candidate Stacey Abrams come from this school of thought, and both have massive support among educated white women, if not high-school educated, women don’t belong in politics because God said so Trump supporters.

The February 2019 Vogue Portugal team jumpstarts this convo in a fashionable way with images by Marcin Kempski. / Hair by Joey George; makeup by Rebecca wordingham