OUR TIME IS NOW
Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America
By Stacey Abrams
In 2018, a black woman arrived at her polling place to cast her vote for Stacey Abrams in the Georgia gubernatorial race. When she arrived, she was refused a ballot because records showed that she had already voted absentee. Such snafus were rampant, and not just in the state of Georgia. Scores of voters were purged from the rolls and others were forced to wait in lines for hours. This woman was educated, prepared and determined to participate in the democratic process. Eventually the situation was sorted and the woman, Stacey Abrams, cast a historic vote for herself as the first black woman to represent a major political party as a gubernatorial candidate.
“Our Time Is Now” is not a political memoir or a long-form résumé; rather, it is a striking manifesto, a stirring indictment and a straightforward road map to victory. Abrams is not governor of Georgia, and she begins her speeches reminding audiences of this stinging matter of fact. Nevertheless, she considers her campaign to be a success. After all, “winning doesn’t always mean you get the prize.” If the “prize” is the quantifiable electoral majority, the victory she embraces arose from her campaign’s activation of the “New American Majority — that coalition of people of color, young people and moderate to progressive whites.”
Voters of color, the identifiable face of this new power bloc, were targeted on Election Day. Abrams painstakingly details the “toolbox for effective disenfranchisement” that includes such dirty tricks as the policy of “exact match,” which disqualifies voters because of small typographical inconsistencies between their registration card and state ID. (When explaining how newly married women were purged from the voter rolls because of hyphenated names, Abrams uses “Tanisha Hagen-Thomas” as a hypothetical, rather than, say, “Jane Doe-Smith.”) Other tactics include closing of convenient polling places and rollbacks of early voting. The gutting of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 declared open season on likely Democratic voters. These distressing facts are well known to most viewers of MSNBC and perhaps readers of this book.
[ Read an excerpt from “Our Time Is Now.” ]
Every good politician is a storyteller, and Abrams is a novelist with several titles under her belt. She portrays her constituents and their concerns in such a way that they feel more actual than symbolic, more individual than indicative. When she turns her gaze onto her family, her narrative gifts are in full flower. To illustrate the emotional and psychological effects of voter suppression, she draws a vivid, affectionate and insightful portrait of her grandparents, working-class Mississippians. In 1968, her grandmother was slated to vote for the first time, yet she was choked with fear of violent retribution. She whispered to her husband, “I don’t want to vote.”