Tech­nol­ogy is key in mo­bi­liz­ing black vote, 2018 elec­tions

South Florida Times - - OPINION - ROGER CALD­WELL New York Times. AL CALLOWAY SAYS

As a child grow­ing up in the 1950’s and 60’s, I don’t un­der­stand mil­len­nia’s’ fix­a­tion on tex­ting, and their spend­ing hours on other so­cial me­dia plat­forms. I am en­gaged with the in­ter­net, and I spend lim­ited time on Facebook, but I am some­what lost when try­ing to un­der­stand all the other plat­forms and new tech­nolo­gies.

“The in­ter­net is the largest com­mu­nity in his­tory – as big as the global pop­u­la­tion in 1960’s. It crosses ev­ery bor­der and cul­ture. And enough peo­ple are con­nected that the in­ter­net has be­come a plan­e­tary in­fras­truc­ture for com­mu­ni­ca­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion,” says Dex Tor­ricke-Bar­ton – writer at the Medium.

It is ob­vi­ous that tech­nol­ogy brings peo­ple to­gether, and it is help­ing to op­ti­mize com­mu­ni­ca­tion through so­cial me­dia.

“Tex­ting and chat­ting are new and al­lows peo­ple all over the world to in­ter­act and bond eas­ily and freely. Mes­sag­ing al­lows for com­mu­ni­ca­tion where it is con­ve­nient and does not re­quire in­stant back and forth like ver­bal com­mu­ni­ca­tions,” says blog­ger Eric Miller.

In 2017, Blacks in Amer­ica must uti­lize new, in­no­va­tive forms of or­ga­niz­ing and tech­nol­ogy to con­nect with mil­lions of Black vot­ers to get them en­gaged and ex­cited about pol­i­tics. With­out spend­ing large amounts of money, the Color of Change PAC con­tacted more than 200,000 Black vot­ers in Philadel­phia, and helped elect civil rights at­tor­ney, Larry Kras­ner, as the city’s Dis­trict At­tor­ney.

“In Philadel­phia, Larry Kras­ner was con­sid­ered a long shot when he en­tered the race, de­spite hav­ing a his­tory of de­fend­ing ac­tivist groups like Black Lives Mat­ter, Oc­cupy and Color of Change PAC. Our ground­break­ing peer to peer tex­ting pro­gram en­ables vol­un­teers to per­son­ally con­tact thou­sands of po­ten­tial vot­ers with ease by text mes­sag­ing. And it’s get­ting results,” says Ar­isha Michelle Hatch – Color of Change PAC.

More than 100 vol­un­teers sent out over 200,000 text mes­sages urg­ing Black vot­ers in Philadel­phia to show up and vote. Larry Kras­ner won his race, and it is phe­nom­e­nal what can hap­pen when masses of Black folks are en­gaged in vot­ing when us­ing tex­ting tech­nol­ogy.

These po­lit­i­cal tex­ting cam­paign events are called text-a-thons, and Color of Change is hop­ing to use this same sys­tem in Ge­or­gia at their spe­cial elec­tion. The race is es­sen­tially tied, and many Black vot­ers may not have in­for­ma­tion about the elec­tion, polling places, dates and times they will be open.

With only $25,000, Color of Change would be able to train, and host sev­eral text-a-thons in the Ge­or­gia Con­gres­sional dis­trict with a fo­cus on the Black com­mu­ni­ties. If 60% of reg­is­tered Black vot­ers are ed­u­cated with tex­ting and show up the day of the spe­cial elec­tion, Democrats will prob­a­bly win.

Po­lit­i­cal tex­ting is not new be­cause Bernie San­ders and other can­di­dates used it when they were run­ning for pres­i­dent in 2016. Bernie San­ders was one of the most suc­cess­ful can­di­dates when he used tex­ting to con­nect to 50,000 sup­port­ers in three or four hours.

“The killing app for the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign is not an app at all. It is not even new. Tex­ting – that 1990s-vin­tage tech­nol­ogy-has sud­denly be­come a go to ve­hi­cle for pres­i­den­tial cam­paigns when they need to get a mes­sage out as widely and quickly as pos­si­ble, and with con­fi­dence that it will be read,” says Nick Co­rasan­iti of The

All Black po­lit­i­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions, Black politi­cians, and Black churches must be ed­u­cated, and en­gaged in the tech­nol­ogy of tex­ting. Mo­bi­liz­ing and or­ga­niz­ing the Black com­mu­nity with tex­ting will ed­u­cate and help get the com­mu­nity to vote. Tex­ting is pri­vate/per­sonal and most peo­ple will read texts on their mo­bile de­vices.

Trump has 29 mil­lion fol­low­ers on his Twit­ter feed, and it has rev­o­lu­tion­ized the way can­di­dates com­mu­ni­cate with their sup­port­ers. When I par­tic­i­pated in “Get Out The Vote” (GOTV) cam­paign events, there were tele­phones. When I go to GOTV cam­paign events today, there are lap­tops and smart phones.

Dig­i­tal data and tech­nol­ogy are chang­ing cam­paigns and po­lit­i­cal move­ments, and mov­ing po­lit­i­cal anal­y­sis to po­lit­i­cal ac­tion. Tweets and tex­ting are chang­ing the land­scape of cam­paign­ing, and rev­o­lu­tion­iz­ing po­lit­i­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

Ap­par­ently there is a lot wrong with NAACP lead­er­ship, which may be why Amer­ica’s “ven­er­a­ble” civil rights or­ga­ni­za­tion seems to be fall­ing apart. If, for ar­gu­ment sake, the Florida State Con­fer­ence of NAACP Branches were used as an ex­am­ple of the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s na­tional prob­lems, a cur­sory glance would help to clearly ex­plain why.

A trip through the six­teen coun­ties of South Florida from Kis­sim­mee to Key West will re­veal that many NAACP or­ga­ni­za­tions func­tion ba­si­cally in name only. There ex­ists what lo­cal peo­ple call “pres­i­dent for life” lead­ers through­out the South Florida area. These are mostly NAACP pres­i­dents that for years op­er­ate the or­ga­ni­za­tion out of their homes, with a few close friends as other of­fi­cers.

The sig­na­ture NAACP fundrais­ing func­tion is the an­nual Free­dom Fund Din­ner. Branches across the na­tion wake up to de­velop this af­fair for which ta­bles are sold, a jour­nal is pro­duced with paid cor­po­rate and per­sonal ad­ver­tis­ing and some per­son of promi­nence is the key­note speaker. Awards are given to cor­po­rate, po­lit­i­cal and other lo­cal lead­ers and it all makes the news. How­ever, no pub­lic ac­count­ing of funds col­lected is an­nounced.

In South Florida, as is the case through­out the na­tion, when a “racial” mat­ter erupts, NAACP lead­ers and a few preach­ers are gath­ered to help keep the black com­mu­nity calm. They get TV, ra­dio and print me­dia time with top of­fi­cials – in­clud­ing the sher­iff and/or po­lice chief . Other than that, too many NAACP Branches ex­hibit lit­tle or no needed pro­grams or projects and there­fore are, in ef­fect, dys­func­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Al­though elec­tions are held in Novem­ber of ev­ery other year for of­fi­cers and ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­bers of ev­ery NAACP or­ga­ni­za­tion, it is very dif­fi­cult to un­seat a regime. The NAACP style of voter sup­pres­sion is the rea­son why. Only the NAACP pres­i­dent and sec­re­tary of each Branch has ac­cess to the mem­ber­ship file, there­fore only the sit­ting pres­i­dent’s slate of of­fi­cers and com­mit­tee mem­bers are known by all other Branch mem­bers prior to an elec­tion.

Op­pos­ing can­di­dates are most of­ten af­forded a small op­por­tu­nity to quickly hand copy the mem­ber­ship list for some short time, usu­ally on the Satur­day

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