Anjali Enjeti Asseses the State of the Union for Southern Women of Color
Voices of ZORA’s 2020 State of Our Union
In advance of the President’s State of the Union address, ZORA convened an impressive group of activists, writers, elected officials, and policy makers to reflect on the realities facing women and girls of color. Their conversation was condensed and reported as the State of Our Union. Read the full conversation here. In this companion piece, Georgia based writer and activists, Anjali Enjeti, expands on some of her contributions to the ZORA Roundtable. — MHP
VOICES FROM THE SOUTH
It’s no accident that states with the most rampant racist voter suppression happen to be the states with the highest Black maternal mortality rates and the strictest abortion legislation in the U.S. This nexus, between disenfranchisement of the voice and disenfranchisement of the body, is most commonly found in the South, and it impacts women of color, especially poor women of color the most.
This is, in part, because the Supreme Court’s 2013, decision in Shelby County v. Holder gutted the Voting Rights Act, which, meant that states with a history of voter suppression no longer had to get approval from the federal government to change voting requirements. But it’s also because many of these southern states have refused to adopt Medicaid expansion. As a result, in Georgia, seven rural hospitals have closed in the past few years. Roughly half of our 159 counties don’t have OB/GYNs and roughly have don’t have pediatricians.
In Southern states, voter suppression and bodily oppression are two sides to the same coin. And this coin is premeditated and intentional. In 2018, the Georgia GOP’s rampant voter suppression of voters of color lead to Brian Kemp’s win the gubernatorial election over Stacey Abrams. And this win opened the door for the GOP to propose and pass HB 481, aka the fetal heartbeat bill, which bans abortion at about the six week mark.
Women of color across the South are gaining electoral power, but their votes are being suppressed. But electoral power is the only way to liberate their own bodies from dangerous GOP-authored legislation.