MAKERS@Home with Aimee Allison

MAKERS@Home with Aimee Allison

Video Transcript

DYLLAN MCGEE: Hi everyone. I'm Dyllan McGee, founder and executive producer of Makers. Welcome to Makers At Home Live. For those of you who know, we just had technical difficulties, but we're back. And we're excited that you're joining us again, because today's Happy National Voter Registration Day.

And we have an amazing guest, Aimee Allison, who is the founder of She The People, and she is going to talk registration and voting with us because we have a lot to learn. So here we go. Hold on. Yay! We did it.

AIMEE ALLISON: How are you?

DYLLAN MCGEE: You would think, many months into these lives, they would be like a piece of cake, right?

AIMEE ALLISON: Listen, we have such tolerance now for crazy tech. I never knew how much patience I had until we were stuck at home for all this time.

DYLLAN MCGEE: Me too. It's so nice to meet you, and welcome to Makers.

AIMEE ALLISON: I'm happy to be here.

DYLLAN MCGEE: It's such a treat, and on the big day. I was like, wait a second. She's going to join us on National Voter Registration Day?

AIMEE ALLISON: Big day.

DYLLAN MCGEE: Yeah, it's a big day. Have you been nonstop all day?

AIMEE ALLISON: Yeah, I mean, for She The People, we have this big goal, which is to activate a million women of color in swing states. And part of that is to make sure all these women check their registration. So we have then we've announced a bunch of tools, we're in partnership with Vote.org-- I know you're also working with them.

And getting people to just check, because a lot of people that thought they were on the voter rolls, when they actually go to She The People and check, they're actually not, or there's some question. So today is a day to either get registered, or to verify you're still there. You've got to make sure.

People are like, hey, I've been voting for years. Buddy, this is what they do. They take it off the rolls, and then you wait in line for four hours, and you get up to the little table, and the elderly people that are volunteering that day are like, I don't see you on the list. And then what happens is you get turned away, or you vote via provisional ballot, and the provisional ballots oftentimes are not counted. Yeah, so I think the best thing for us is everybody make sure they're registered.

DYLLAN MCGEE: OK, and you can go to SheThePeople.org right now--

AIMEE ALLISON: On the front page.

DYLLAN MCGEE: --and we want to start seeing thumbs up from all of you watching. Just double check. Even though I assume I am, but I'm going to double check too. All right? All of you, go. All right. We already have one thumbs. OK, so as people are checking, because we're hoping they're going to do that live, just tell us a little bit about She The People, because it's amazing what you're doing.

AIMEE ALLISON: Thank you, and thank you for saying that. I've had-- OK. First, I want to talk to you about 2016-- that election. People understanding 2016's results, both the base of the White House and and all the other elections, need to understand that a lot of people who were eligible to vote didn't turn out to the polls.

A significant portion of people who are eligible to vote, who drive the elections, who are the core of the democratic party, voting base are women of color. Yet, in 2016, we were ignored. We weren't even a topic of conversation. And I promised that I would never allow a false narrative about whose vote matters and drives the future of this country ever again.

So three years ago, I founded She The People to tell a new story to the country, which is that women of color, the fastest growing voting block-- you cannot win the White House without us. We we demonstrated by delivering the midterm in the midterm elections to the House with the Democrats. We are one of four voters in swing states. In my hometown-- I'm in Oakland, this is my house-- in Oakland, one of four voters are women of color.

And actually, if you think about it, it's not just about women of color as voters. It's about this character of moral leadership that we're seeing many women of color exhibit when they get into the state houses and in Congress. Think about the squad, think about how bold. If we didn't have women speaking out, what would we be left with?

Think think about, even the situation we're at right now. That we have the death of a Supreme Court justice, six weeks before an election, and it would take people-- they have a lot of moral courage-- to say it's not right to make this political, that we should wait. But looking for this kind of moral courage is a very rare leadership quality in this country, and women of color have this in spades.

So I'm seeing, like in the last three years, we put women of color on the map. We shared the data, we told the stories, we backed women of color candidates. And we-- we did something really important, which is often overlooked.

If you look at the way that we see from the highest offices of the land, from the very beginning, the president denigrating immigrants, denigrating Latinos, talking about Black people, talking about Kaepernick as the son of a bitch, he created an environment that separated us. But I'm a biracial woman who believes in multiracial solidarity.

And for us, because our country's turning into where there's no majority and no minority, we have this opportunity to reject that separate-- the divide and conquer tactics-- and actually come together across race. Women of color are leading that, and so that's what we're doing. We're offering an alternative. We either go into a white nationalist fascism terribleness--

DYLLAN MCGEE: No. Or what?

AIMEE ALLISON: Or we embrace a multiracial democracy, reflective democracy, where you see yourself reflected in leadership, and therefore you get your community's needs met. And even in this terrible time, you look on Instagram, it's like, oh my god, I'm-- you used to go to Instagram for nice pretty pictures and now it's all political content, and it's depressing.

Even now, we have a choice. So I say all that to say that's what She The People's goal is, to create multiracial democracy led by those who have experienced the very painful suffering that has resulted of having a government that doesn't see or hear us. Now we've moved the needle, it's time for us to lead and I think, even now, things are possible.

DYLLAN MCGEE: Oh, your hope is making me-- it's infectious. I mean, yes. I mean, a multiracial government. That's what we all want.

AIMEE ALLISON: It's what we want.

DYLLAN MCGEE: I guess, I almost want to get down to the brass tacks here, right? Because I know-- and I saw a bunch of, all right, everyone did a great job, audience. You gave us the thumbs up for red to confirm that you double checked. Now you give us a thumbs up like, I assume everybody wants the multiracial democracy, right? But so how can we-- because we know that the group right now, and in general, our Makers audience-- we're registered passionate voters, how can we get there? What can we do besides just going to the polls? We know we have to vote, but what else between now and then can we do?

AIMEE ALLISON: All right, so we got six weeks. Here's the thing. Once you check your registration, you have to do something called vote tripling. So this is--

DYLLAN MCGEE: Voting what? Vote Tripoli?

AIMEE ALLISON: We've got to do vote tripling.

DYLLAN MCGEE: OK, vote tripling. I'll write that down.

AIMEE ALLISON: This is the bare minimum of what every year should commit to. How do we turn people out? Well, you can you can join the phone banks, and you can do that. But let's say you don't want to sign up for a shift with an organization who's doing it. And there are some amazing organizations that I can talk about.

Let's say you want to have a really big impact with the people you already know. Vote tripling says, I am going to make sure that three people that I know vote. And what's more, to make a really impactful, that the people that I know that I'm committed to-- you know, I could text them or call them, I have a relationship with them, they trust me-- not only vote. They vote early.

This is the thing. We can't think of voter turnout, which actually-- it's going to be turnout. The results of the the presidential race, the results of the Senate race, it's an all down ballot-- is via turnout. It's about turnout. And what that means in practical, how can we get our people to cast a vote and have their votes count? And the best, easiest way is vote tripling.

So for me, my son Isaiah is 22. He lives in LA. He's a dancer. Let's just say, he's not political as mom. I want to make sure that my child, grown-ass man, makes sure to vote. And so that's one.

DYLLAN MCGEE: Wait, but that's easier said than done. I want to stop on the son thing because it leads me to-- because I knew I was talking to you, I have a son who just turned 18. He doesn't dance, by the way, for Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber. Just saying that I know that about you. He dances with me. That's about as good as it gets for him.

But I texted him this morning, and I was like, just triple checking that you registered, and he said, yes, mom. And then I said, where? Because he goes to college in Upstate New York, and I'm outside of the city. So all of a sudden, I'm thinking, wait, we have a problem here. Does that mean he's gotta get down here to vote? Or I've got to make sure that he does a mail-in, right? And how much time do we have for mail-in?

AIMEE ALLISON: This is the problem. A lot of states now-- I don't think New York is one of them-- you and I have live-in states, where although massive voters who are 18 get ignored by both parties because they're not prioritized, that's another type of problem.

But in places like California and New York, we don't have Secretary of States who are dedicated to trying to get people off the voter rolls and stop people from voting, whereas if you're a student, if you've got a student, if there is a if there's a polling location on campus, most campuses are not open in this country. Like more than 90% are closed, so people aren't able to vote on campus.

The recommendation is that people register at home, and they register with a paper ballot. And the reason is, a paper ballot gives a lot of flexibility to people. What we know is that, because of the question the questionable stuff that DeJoy was doing as Postmaster General, explicitly taking out sorting machines to slow down first class mail, there is a question mark in a lot of people's minds. If I put my ballot into the mail, is it going to even get there, or is this a way to steal my vote? And I have to say, some of those concerns are totally legit.

DYLLAN MCGEE: Right.

AIMEE ALLISON: So if you're a student and you register, you've got to make sure that you understand where the polling places are. The challenge is a lot of the polling places on college campuses have been moved or consolidated. So if you don't know where your polling place is, then my recommendation is, when you register, register as a vote by mail. That way, you can take that paper ballot, if you want, you should put it in the mail. I wouldn't put it in later than October 15th because it--

DYLLAN MCGEE: October 15th. That's what I wanted to know. OK.

AIMEE ALLISON: We should look at it not as election day, but election season. So like October 15th is a good time to give two solid weeks for your ballot. And then in states like yours and mine, there are online places you can chase your ballot and make sure it was received.

It also gives you options. If you have a paper ballot, you can vote early. Many states, and you can go to the She The People site and check your state, but early voting has already started in seven states, and in California it starts next week. Ballots come the 5th. I'm going to vote early, but I'm going to go in person to Alameda County offices where they have a drop box inside. That's where I'm going because I want to make sure my vote gets counted.

So, unfortunately, there isn't the strongest way for college students. To be able to make sure their vote is counted is to get that paper ballot. Get it mailed somewhere, whether it's a regular address they have access to and walk that thing in personally. And so I tell my son, do that. It's like multiple steps, like, OK, mom.

DYLLAN MCGEE: I know. I'm like, how basic can I make this for him? We all have to be-- we're helicopter parents-- but it's like, lay off. But in this case, I don't care. I'm helicoptering.

AIMEE ALLISON: No, no. Everyone's focused on the presidential, as they should be. But the Senate races we think about how so much legislation has been tied up in the Senate that would help people have money to survive this record unemployment, have protection and housing, have relief from student loans. All this legislation is tied up. It's been passed by the House that has not been addressed by the Senate because the leadership doesn't consider it very important. And so those races are going to be determined in places like Colorado, places like Georgia, Florida, Texas, Arizona--

DYLLAN MCGEE: Arizona, and you have Montana.

AIMEE ALLISON: And, by the way, the states that I just mentioned, a quarter of the electorate are women of color. Our turnout will determine the Senate races as well, so we're a target of a lot of voter suppression. From the Indigenous women, all the way to Black women and Latinas and Asian-Americans. So I think we have to be clear-eyed about the kind of challenge.

DYLLAN MCGEE: But you said, so vote tripling is one. So we got that. We got to do three people. Any other little tidbits like that?

AIMEE ALLISON: Vote early. Vote early as possible. Walk your ballot in. Personally, Black women already-- because we fought so hard for the right to vote, and it's a cultural thing-- you vote as if people fought and died. My dad used to take me when I was a kid. By the hand, we'd go to vote. And he would tell me, "Our people fought and died for this right." And so it's in there, it's in my DNA.

DYLLAN MCGEE: And you also said one, of the things I loved, is, "Women of color are Trump's kryptonite."

AIMEE ALLISON: Oh, yeah.

DYLLAN MCGEE: Explain that to me, because I love that.

AIMEE ALLISON: First of all, can I just say, I said that off the cuff. It wasn't part of any prepared talking point. I said that because I'm a nerd and I watch a lot of superhero moves and stuff like that. And the thing about saying that was, we weren't fooled by him before we're not fooled by him now. We don't have any kind of-- we're not on the fence, well, maybe he's presidential now. Or maybe he doesn't really mean to leave office, or maybe he wasn't serious when he called all Latinos "rapists". Well, maybe he didn't mean-- like, listen. We saw it, we recognize it. Why? Because we know what it's like.

I know what it's like to be called the b-word and the n-word and all the in-between. And I know how much suffering there is amongst my community other communities. And that we have seen Trump before. You know, it's funny, because there's an amazing woman, Monce Arinar, who is the head of an organization called One Arizona, and--

DYLLAN MCGEE: One what? One what?

AIMEE ALLISON: One Arizona. One Arizona. Lead by this amazing woman Monce, who's actually young. I mean, I'm 50, so she's in her 30s, and she's the main woman who's leading the statewide voter registration effort. And they do a year round, they don't come from the DMV and parachute in and rent some kind of store front and come in for a few weeks. It's not like that. They're in the community. She lives in Phoenix. And she's been registering voters, and they have brought Phoenix, who's a majority people of color state, within a hair's breadth of flipping the state to blue.

Monce told me two years ago, she goes-- actually, when I first got to know her, she was like, look. We've seen Trump before. In Arizona, long before Trump became like associated with politics, he was just a clown on TV. Long before that, we had seen the kind of politics that Trump represented.

Using the criminal justice-- dehumanizing whole classes of people-- we'd seen it with Sheriff Arpaio. Remember, Sherriff Arpaio would round up immigrants and put them in 110 degree heat in these open tent areas, and would make excuses for dehumanizing a group of people who came to work. And they have no legal path to citizenship.

And I was thinking about that too. I live in California, but California, with proposition 187, which was in the early 90s, this state proposition passed to justify taking away public services, health care, and an access to public schools from immigrants that did not have documentation. I have seen Trump before. So a lot of us have seen it.

We come from the former Confederate states, we come from places that used to be Mexico. You might say, well, that's a long time ago. But we had seen it, so as a result, we're kryptonite because, first of all, we call it like we see it. We don't have fear. We're showing amazing clarity and courage where other people are wishy-washy, or they're not sure, or they are afraid to say something because they think they have too much to lose.

We actually don't have that much to lose, so the kryptonite is, you can't bully me, fool. There is nothing you can take from me. And, in fact, I know the truth about you. And I know, with love, that we can make justice the law of the land. And I believe in something more lasting, more powerful, than you. And having that makes us kryptonite.

DYLLAN MCGEE: I love it.

AIMEE ALLISON: We didn't see it-- we did believe it before, and we don't believe it now. And the country is able to reclaim the White House and stop the madness. Get in front of COVID-19, help the people who are losing their homes right now. If we're able to do that, the country has a great debt to women of color who have held a steady vision, and we haven't gotten confused by the celebrity culture which has sunk us into these depths. So I'm just saying this, let me get my-- listen.

DYLLAN MCGEE: I'm in.

AIMEE ALLISON: OK.

DYLLAN MCGEE: I've got it. You know, one of the things that, obviously, I listen to you. And what did you say at the beginning? You called it women of color and Black women, women of moral courage. Is that what you said? That is-- I am going to be blunt and say that I think we need-- look what happened with the last election with white women. And we need to get more white women to have this moral courage, and to step up and get out.

AIMEE ALLISON: There's there's an article today that is about the space that Kimberly Crenshaw, who is the mother of intersectionality, intersectional feminism--

DYLLAN MCGEE: We have a documentary coming out October 27th, and she's in. So she made huge space. It started as an activist academic. She's the mother of our movement in a lot of ways--

[PHONE RINGS]

DYLLAN MCGEE: There she is. It's Kimberly. Bring her on.

AIMEE ALLISON: I'm totally cracking up.

DYLLAN MCGEE: Can you imagine? But AIMEE ALLISON: But in this article, I said intersectional feminism gives us a way to talk about politics grounded in racial, economic, and gender justice. Throughout the 400 years of history, there have always been white women-- always-- who have wanted to be part of the mix, the multiracial mix, who were born with a heart of solidarity.

Now, I'm not telling you it's the majority and you and I both know it's not, that white women as voters are more and more conservative. That adherence to a kind of racial identity, white identity, is more powerful than gender identity. We know that about how people vote. But we also know that through intersectional frameworks, gives white women a way in to be part of a multiracial coalition, and solidarity that is so beautiful and powerful.

Like, when I was a high school teacher-- this is like a million years ago-- I was in a bilingual classroom in Sequoia, which is in Redwood City, which is near Palo Alto, California. And my students, most of them were from Michoacan, Mexico-- which is one state in Mexico most of my students are from-- and I remember teaching American history, which is what I taught, using a lot of text from Howard Zinn. People's History. Then I translate some of it into Spanish, we would talk about a people's history. From the very beginning, there have people of every race and gender who have been part of this.

And we can't forget that. It's like, I'm sad about the majority white women, but my mom is white. I have Trump supporters in my immediate family. And where does that leave us? That doesn't leave-- that's the reality for white people. They have Trump people in their families, like me, but there's a lot of other people, like yourself who are like, OK. Actually, that's not what defines me and I'm ready for this new thing. So that's why I was so excited about intersectionality, because I said today it gives a lot of people a way in, including white women.

DYLLAN MCGEE: Well, and I am ready for this new thing. So let's do it. If you can believe it, our half hour it already, like-- god, that flies by. It always kills me. I want more, more, more. Well, parting words for everybody. I just want to recap. Go to SheThePeople.org, first of all. Even if you think you are, make sure that you are registered to vote.

You have to do vote tripling, which means you've got to get three other people to vote, even if they're your kids or people in your family. Everyone gets lazy somehow. They think, I don't have to worry. On that day, you're going to do vote tripling, and if you can, you're going to vote early and take your ballot in. You do the mail if you have to, but physically take it in. Anything else to add to that in our final words of wisdom from you, you amazing woman?

AIMEE ALLISON: Just, for everyone who's in this conversation, don't forget how powerful you are. We have one job, which is, as citizens, to cast our vote. But the future of the country can rest on just a few people doing the right thing. And we're here for this. Politics that we've never seen. We have not yet seen it. But I don't want anyone to lose faith, because this is the time for us to keep focused. I really am so glad to be here with you. Thank you so much for inviting me.

DYLLAN MCGEE: Thank you, and all of your dreams. They're our dreams too, and we're going to work together to make it all happen. So thank you. You have a Makers friend. Anything we can do to support all your incredible work, please let us know. And thank you. Now go back to all your other voter registration work. Back to work. Bye. Bye.