A group of exotic dancers from Atlanta’s most popular clubs are the stars of the latest voting PSA, which is making its rounds on social media. The unconventional approach to encouraging people to “Get Your Booty to the Poll” is gaining attention — and mixed responses from the millions of people who have watched it. Mondale Robinson, president and founder of the Black Male Voter Project, says that’s the point.
“If we are OK with famous people, like actors and actresses, athletes and any personality that has influence or title or a blue check beside their name on Instagram or social media being able to talk politics, then we should damn well be OK with these sisters using their agency to speak about issues that are most important and absolutely on point to motivate Black men,” Robinson tells Yahoo Life regarding the video.
The project was created by Atlanta-based director Angela Gomes Barnes and producer Paul Fox who started a GoFundMe called “Angela and Paul want black people to vote,” which, at the time this story was published, had raised $13,399 since July 13. According to the page, the money will go toward creating a “series of PSAs and a meme campaign to inspire our brothers to vote.” The first, which premiered on Tuesday, was created with the help of Robinson, who has worked directly with Black men throughout the country to learn about the issues that are most important to them to identify tactics to get them to vote.
“We took those issues and built a platform. And out of that platform, we began to engage Black men. Not last week or two weeks ago, but at the beginning of the year around those issues — and reminding them that the shenanigans that exist in trying to understand the electoral politics is not necessary to be an electoral creature,” he says. “Most of the issues plaguing Black men, the top three, are local issues.”
Robinson and the Black Male Voter Project were able to use the information gathered from those most apprehensive about voting to inform the “Get Your Booty to the Poll” creators of what the PSA’s script should be focused on. The video highlights a voter’s ability to choose a district attorney who can deal with police brutality, to have a voice in the education system, and to select county officials who would address the issue of cash bails.
When it comes to the delivery of these issues, Robinson tips his hat to all those involved in the creation of the video itself. “Those sisters had a genius idea about the culture of Atlanta,” he explains. “To be honest, a large part of the demographic that we need to engage, Black men in Georgia, they felt like this was a great way to speak to them, using these issues and dancers.”
After hitting social media feeds, the PSA has received a vast response from those for and against it.
— Lisa Respers France (@LisaFranceCNN) September 23, 2020
Best part is, they’re advocating for down ballot elections. Local government is what shapes our daily lives and I cannot shout this loud enough.
— Angela Mayfield for GA HD 67 (@pinkrocktopus) September 23, 2020
— Tariq Nasheed 🇺🇸 (@tariqnasheed) September 22, 2020
This has to be one of the most insulting things they've ever done. Smh
— Geri D' Fyniz ✊🏾🇺🇸 (@Th3Melan8dGawd) September 22, 2020
They always coming to us with some dysfunction 🤢
— Dominique 🌸 (@JustThatGrll) September 22, 2020
Organizers behind the “Get Your Booty to the Poll” initiative didn’t immediately respond to Yahoo Life’s request for comment. However, the director has responded to criticism with a post to her Instagram, acknowledging voter suppression.
I encourage civil discourse and am open to criticism of the PSA but only from ACTUAL people, and really only Black people if I am being honest. The number of haters in my feed with like 5 followers and 3 posts (all coming in about the same time) reeks of sabotage and only reinforces to me just how scared folks are of Black people finally having a voice in how we are governed. Remember, if our vote didn't matter, why are they trying so hard to discourage us? (Sidenote: if you ain't ever done shit to try and make the world a better place for more than just yourself, your opinion doesn't matter to me.) #GetYourBootyToThePoll #gybttp #bootytothepoll #blacklivesmatter #blm #vote #vote2020 #blackvote #blackvoters #election #election2020 #Novemberelection #blackvotesmatter #endcashbail #tradesinschools #blackwomendirectors #directing #directorhustle #directormom #makingadifference #getinvolved #poledance #poledancers #blackmalevoterproject #blackgirlmagic
A post shared by Angela Barnes (@loveangelabarnes) on
In response to those who claim that the campaign was created by the Democratic party, the “Get Your Booty to the Poll” campaign tweeted to verify that it is a non-partisan effort.
Surprise, we’re non-partisan!!! https://t.co/oLynB2COG0
— GetYourBootyToThePoll (@bootytothepoll) September 22, 2020
Robinson explains that with the Black Male Voter Project’s work in particular, it’s important and effective to remain solely focused on the issues. “We don’t talk about parties and candidates because it’s not a way to motivate Black men who otherwise wouldn’t participate in electoral politics,” he explains. “What we can do is center the issues of Black men, knowing that will awaken the specific creature that exists inside of us and make us more likely to vote. And that’s what we do, we focus on the issues and not the personalities, and I know it works.”
He goes on to explain that his organization was able to increase the number of Black men that participated in this year’s primaries by 96,000 in Georgia alone. Although the actual impact of the “Get Your Booty to the Poll” campaign won’t be determined until election day, Robinson has high hopes.
“It speaks volumes,” he says. “When we hear these issues, we hear for the first time a political ad that sounds like somebody has heard the cries of Black men.”
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