Smile Politely

Recognizing white privilege in voting

You’ve been urged to vote by us (and we’re not done), by Black Lives Matter, and by the Movement for Black Lives. We are all clear that voting alone will not end white supremacy, but it’s a necessary step to prevent further slippage towards tyranny. Vote, and then stay engaged in community work.

Champaign County has made tremendous strides in making it possible for every eligible voter to cast their ballot. Take advantage of early voting locationsdrop boxes for mail-in ballots, and make a plan for November 3 if you don’t plan on voting early. Let everyone know that Election Day is now an official state holiday, which means there are no University classes

But also, remember that the ease and ability to vote is another place where white privilege shows up, and that barriers to voting are often there with intent. The clearest example of this is racialized voter suppression, such as long lines. Camera shots of endless lines of voters are supposed to be inspiring, but waiting 9 hours in line is the mark of suppression. A 2017 study showed that non-white voters are seven times more likely to wait more than an hour to vote. Other voter-suppression tactics are dressed up as strict voter ID laws and difficult registration processes, including limits on voting for incarcerated people and people with felonies. In addition, barriers that have kept those with a chronic illness or disability from voting have been heightened by the pandemic.

So vote, but also, help others to vote by sharing our graphic resources on social media.

Until we are all free,

CU-SURJ Newsletter Team


Show Up This Week

CU-SURJ Check in Circle (weekly)

Oct 22nd, 4:30 p.m.


Election Defense Phone Zaps

Oct 26th and 28th 2 p.m.


Swing Georgia Left Phonebank (weekly)

Oct 22nd and 29th (recruitment) 5 to 8 p.m.

Nov 1st, 2nd, and 3rd (voter contact)

12 to 3:30 p.m.

#EndWhiteSilence: Turn out the Vote and Defend Fair Elections

Oct 27th 6 to 7 p.m. 

Election Justice Action Hour

Oct 28 7-8pm (weekly)

See many other training and phonebanking options in our resource guide.

Calls to Action

There are so many calls to action, we made a spreadsheet! Check out upcoming national trainings, as well as resources and toolkits.

Provide voter support and make a plan yourself

See more on our Calls to Action page.


Local Voices

  • Read: “What You Need To Know About Language Access At The Polls in Illinois”
  • Read: “Being Black in America” from Sheila Johnson, UI alumna and BET co-founder
  • Read: “I received my mail-in ballot and then voted in person instead” 
  • Read: “Weighing in today with a five-step plan for changing ‘the systems that perpetuate racism and violence’”

Learn more

  • Listen: :Abolition in Covid-Times”
  • Read: “Voter Suppression Is Still One of the Greatest Obstacles to a More Just America”
  • Read: “Voters vs. Disinformation”

Anti-Racist Parenting

  • Learn: Conscious Kid Key Terms for Racial Literacy 
  • Watch: Videos from Daniel TigerSesame Street and Kids Explain about voting and why it’s important

Cultural Work:

  • Poetry: Jay Simpson’s “A sore subject”
  • Art: The Art of Voting features political posters by 80 illustrators

Send art/poetry/music submissions to:

Top photo by Jessica Hammie.

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