By J.A. Jones, Staff Writer
TAMPA BAY – This week, the Tampa Bay Black Media Coalition (TBBMC) continues its voter awareness campaign by asking voters to weigh in on three questions concerning the upcoming election. The questions came from a concerned reader who wrote the staff here at The Weekly Challenger, voicing concern over how the recent presidential debate might only add to the current misinformation and anxiety the current administration has been drumming up around “voter fraud.”
“In my lifetime, I have never seen any politician attempt to confuse voters like the current presidential administration,” wrote the reader, who is worried that local politicians and elections supervisors may be overlooking how confusing the current voting landscape is.
Over the next two weeks, the TBBMC will ask readers and listeners to weigh in on the issues by responding to three questions:
- What concerns you most about this election cycle?
- How confident are you in the voting system, vote by mail, etc.?
- What should we do if our voting system fails us on Nov. 3?
Members of the TBBMC themselves voiced their own concerns around the issues.
“There’s so much going on it’s hard to focus. We’re getting such an abundance of information that people don’t know what to believe or which way to go,” shared Power Plug Radio’s Shundra Allison.
Helping audiences understand the issues and have clarity about the voting process is paramount, she said, noting the media’s responsibility to help parse through the issues. “We want our community to trust us, so they won’t get bamboozled.”
Donald Jackson of WUJM “The Burg” 99.1FM/99 Jams Radio has started dedicated several evenings a week to open platforms for area leaders to share information.
“I’m opening up the opportunity on the radio station to have community leaders come on here and talk about why we need to be ready for the election, why we need to go out and vote, and what we need to do to achieve the best possible results.”
Jackson feels the airwaves can help educate the community. “Right now we have Dr. Manuel Sykes who comes on Wednesdays, but I’m looking for other leaders to come on Tuesday and Thursday from 6-7 p.m.”
Jackson said it’s essential to have leaders who have respect in the community to share their thoughts and advice to listeners.
Jabaar Edmond, co-host of the Tampa Bay Breakfast Club, said it’s necessary to organize and build robust coalitions, because: “This system can’t save us; we have to save ourselves.”
Edmond pointed out Florida’s history of voting issues, noting the 2000 election between Bush and Gore – a ridiculously tight election in which Gore was predicted to win, but Bush ultimately took amid a cacophony of recounts, accusations of voter fraud, and weeks-long lawsuits in Florida and U. S. Supreme Courts.
During this election, said Edmond, we’re already up against voter suppression due to countless attempts at the gutting of Amendment 4. He also voiced concern around the use of “dog whistles,” a term which, according to Vox, is “political shorthand for a phrase that may sound innocuous to some people, but which also communicates something more insidious either to a subset of the audience or outside of the audience’s conscious awareness.”
Edmond sees this as a tactic that might be used by both sides, saying, “Partisan politics has divided our community and nation.” He also acknowledged that voters should be aware of misinformation and know where to go for non-biased, factual, and timely reporting.
Gypsy Gallardo, publisher of The Power Broker magazine, noted, “My biggest concern is post-election vigilante violence by white supremacists, and the threat of random violence (or worse, organized violence) to every day African Americans and other people of color.”
The Tampa Bay Black Media Coalition began in June of 2019 when Brother John Muhammad and Jabaar Edmond of the Tampa Bay Breakfast Club called members of Pinellas’ Black media outlets together to discuss various issues related to control of media narrative.
For the rest of October up through the election and after, the coalition plans to keep the topic of voting and the protection of the vote front and center online, in print, and over the airwaves.
“We have to operate within this broken system to fix it,” noted Edmond. “We have to do our work, out-think [negative forces and players] and be determined — as we always have done.”
You can reach TBBMC members to respond to the three questions above directly on their Facebook pages, or follow the campaign on their outlets:
Tampa Bay Breakfast Club, https://www.facebook.com/TampaBayBreakfastClub/
The Weekly Challenger – https://www.facebook.com/TheWeeklyChallengerNewspaper
To reach J.A. Jones, email firstname.lastname@example.org