This, friends, is the opposite of democracy.
As of today, America has gotten rid of 21,000 polling locations. Lines in minority and Democrat-dense communities are exponentially longer than those in more affluent areas. On the first day of early voting in Georgia, wait times to vote were upwards of eight hours. So, contrary to those inspirational tweets and flag-waving about the long lines reflecting some sort of American beauty, long lines to vote are actually signs of democracy failing. Democracy working would actually be people walking in and out of polling places in mere minutes with no lines in sight and a video that looks less sensational and, well, boring. Elections should sort of be boring.
But there is one minor reason to celebrate the long voting lines. They should mark the end of long-line shaming that gets dumped on Black people every time something becomes popular. Remember how Black people were shamed for waiting in line for Popeye’s chicken sandwiches? Or how we were shamed back in the days of waiting in long lines for Jordans? The responses always come with some ill-conceived blaming of Black folks for our own ills, namely in the form of asking us why we don’t wait in such lines to vote. Well, joke’s on you, cornballs: Black people actually wait in line to vote just as much as they do for golden chicken deliciousness and overpriced drip. Of course, the problem here is that voter suppression is set up in a way that it feels like casting a vote is as difficult as scoring a new pair of Jordan 1s on SNKRS. And it really shouldn’t be that way.
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So when you see the voting numbers, which are sure to be the largest in our lifetimes, don’t think about this as the shining light of democracy coming through when we need it. Actually, the voting numbers are going to be a testament to Americans’ refusal to fold when faced with increasingly arduous and oppressive voter suppression. That is the real lesson we should get from the American voting experience.
— David Dennis, senior staff writer
This Week in Racism
🗑 We promise you, the real headline is better than this headline
If you asked us to create the most 2020 news headline possible, we’d obviously hire a team of data scientists to create an algorithm, and then feed that algorithm to the world’s most powerful supercomputer. And we’d be wrong. Because the most 2020 news headline possible happened over the weekend, and it is this: “Man wearing Burger King crown yells N-word on JetBlue flight.” It gives you everything you need to know (how unhinged is this person, exactly?) while still leaving room for wonders untold (does he think he is the Burger King?). No, he does not think he’s the titular Burger King. He does, however, think that a flight from Kingston, Jamaica is the proper place to take his mask off and repeatedly scream the world’s foulest racial slur while complaining that a Black woman accidentally kneed him while getting to her seat — and to utter the immediately classic phrase, “excuse me, I’m part West African, I can say the word n****r any time I want!” His Royal Burgerness, who is not in fact “part West African,” has been banned from JetBlue for life. And probably from Kingston, too. (New York Post)
🗑 Jared Kushner shows exactly why he and Kanye are so tight
Real estate scion and ’80s teen comedy villain Jared Kushner, also known as Donald Trump’s son-in-law, went on Fox & Friends this morning to talk up his new daddy’s re-election chances — and to perpetuate the lie that Trump is simply Abraham Lincoln in orange skin. And in the process, he dropped an absolute gem. “One thing that we have seen in a lot of the Black community…is that President Trump’s policies are the policies that can help people break out of the problems that they’re complaining about,” he said. “But he can’t want them to be successful more than that they want to be successful.” Yes, that sound you heard was a nation of millions all sucking their teeth at exactly the same time. See, centuries of systemic racism is really just a lack of desire. The thing is, this is exactly in line with something Kanye West attributed to Kushner while talking about their frequency conversations — the idea that “We don’t have Black leaders — we just have hustlers.” Wait, though, because we’re confused. If you want to be successful in a country that is built around denying you opportunities, you have to hustle … but if you hustle, then you can’t be a leader. Goddamnit, Jared, you’ve outsmarted us again. Next time around, we’ll have to be born to a gazillionaire magnate the way you were, and see if that helps. (Bloomberg News)
🗑 New York Cop Chants “Trump 2020” From His Car’s Loudspeaker, Proves What Everyone in New York Already Knew
You crazy for this one, White cops who live in Long Island or Staten Island or predominantly White neighborhoods in Queens! Over the weekend, a pedestrian in Brooklyn got into a shouting match with a couple of NYPD officers after their car rolled into a crosswalk. You know the best way for officers of the peace to defuse a situation in which they were clearly in the wrong? That’s not a rhetorical question, we’re really asking you, because the answer probably isn’t repeatedly saying “Trump 2020” over the car’s loudspeaker. And it’s definitely not escalating the situation by daring the pedestrian to “put it on YouTube, put it on Facebook.” Given that whole “you can’t endorse a candidate when on duty” rule, the officer has been suspended without pay — though how long that suspension is, or what it really does to change an inbred culture of us-against-them reactionary conservatism that also manifests in actions like driving your SUV into a crowd of peaceful protestors, is at press time still unclear. So, in summation: very legal, very cool. (Buzzfeed News)
The LEVEL Up: Culture Picks From the Editors
🎶 Ty Dolla $ign, Featuring Ty Dolla
After a sterling three-year run of slaying guest features, Ty Dolla $ign finally gives the people what they want and need. His third solo studio album (following MihTy, 2018’s fire duet project with Jeremih) is a cohesive collection of mid-tempo vibes that puts the L.A. singer’s chameleonic talents on full display. There’s an update of Erykah Badu’s “Tyrone.” There’s a song named for Dr. Sebi. Plus, everyone from Kehlani to Future to Kid Cudi to Musiq damn Soulchild lends their talents. Recognize greatness. (Spotify)
📺 On the Rocks
Every Black woman needs at least one down-for-whatever homegirl who is willing to entertain and take part in her shenanigans. This goes doubly for fictional Hollywood productions. In the case of Sofia Coppola’s newly streamable comedy, Laura Keane (played by Rashida Jones) has her womanizing dad (Bill Murray), who is very much with the shits. Together, they snoop around behind her perpetually busy businessman husband (Marlon Wayans) after worrying that he may be having an affair. What could go wrong, right? (Apple TV+)
📱 Jim Jones, Drip Report
We can guarantee you’ve never seen a meteorologist like this before. Dipset’s own Jim Jones plays weavahman in Drip Report, a hilarious weekly segment in which the self-proclaimed One-Eyed Willie delivers the national forecast, with a high chance of Harlem slang and swag showers. Wondering whether it’s hoodie weather or time to pull out the construction Timbs? Unlike Sway, Capo has the answers — plus the latest haps in the streetwear world. Pray for reign, indeed. (Revolt)
LEVEL Read of the Week
Turning Georgia Blue Means Fighting Through Voter Suppression
Once a Republican stronghold in the South, Georgia is one of a handful of newly purple swing states that will be pivotal in the upcoming presidential election. Yet these tenacious Democratic voters are up against every tried-and-true trick out of the disenfranchisement playbook, including daunting lines for early voting in Black neighborhoods due to a scarcity of polling sites. The looming pandemic only further complicates things. Peach State voters speak about the assortment of hurdles to overcome so they can avoid seeing red following Election Day. Read the story.
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