Jayme Beasley and Antoinette Keith want to make sure their generation understands why local politics matter. One of the best ways the Clark Atlanta University doctoral students thought they could get that message across is through their podcast called “Politics OR Politiking.”
“We have an idea of what politics should be. But then you have that other side just politiking. The truth … or what’s really being done,” says Keith, who prefers to be called Sabah.
“We also wanted to center black women’s political scientist’s perspectives because we both believe it’s a very unique perspective,” says Beasley. Leaders she’d like to center include women from the past such as presidential candidate Shirley Chisolm to current Georgia congresswoman Lucy McBath.
Both are Ph.D. students of political science. They want Georgians to know politics isn’t just something you think about every four years or when you go to the polls.
Drawing From Other Generations
Originally they were focused on millennials — young people who aren’t paying enough attention to local politics and elections. For Beasley, it wasn’t enough for Georgians to say ‘my vote doesn’t count.’
“I always ask, ‘well if your vote doesn’t count, why are these people hell-bent on you not going to the polls? Why are they closing these polls? Why are they only making five polling stations? Why are they making you wait in line for two hours?’,” she says. “All of this effort to prevent you from voting.”
Both soon realized that other generations could benefit from the podcast as well.
“We became more interested in having intergenerational discussions. We realized how important it is to draw on the wisdom of elders as well,” says Keith.
Elders who were active in earlier battles for civil rights in Georgia, including the fight for voting rights.
A Timely Message
Georgia votes in the primary on Tuesday. And the country is still in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Both of these events have made it even more important for Beasley and Keith to get the word out about civic engagement and why local politics matters.
“All politics impacts us,” says Beasley. “So like drawing those dots and drawing those connections to the way that national politics impacts the state and impacts local and how all of it fits together to impact the individual.”
Beasley and Keith talked to WABE before protests started in Atlanta. At the time, they said that the pandemic opens up the space to talk about inequities that have become glaringly obvious.
“Especially considering African Americans are being affected at an alarming rate,” Keith says. “Being amongst those who are not only contracting the virus but dying of the virus.”
Many African Americans don’t have access to health care and have underlying health conditions that can worsen the virus’ impact. Many are essential workers, dependent on public transportation.
In one of their episodes earlier this spring, Keith and Beasley made the explicit connection between the pandemic and politics.
“The response to this virus has been largely led by state and local efforts. We should pay attention to these leaders when election time comes because that is in November,” says Beasley on the episode. She further says if Georgians don’t like how elected officials are responding to this crisis … then they should be voted out.
For Beasley, it’s really a call to action.
“Because if you don’t participate … you can’t complain. I can’t put that in a sugar-coated way,” says Beasley.
For Keith and Beasley, Georgians can’t afford to not participate in politics.
Behind The Story
Roxanne Scott produced this story as part of the America Amplified initiative using community engagement to inform and strengthen local, regional and national journalism. America Amplified is a public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. WABE is part of the America Amplified network.
Earlier this year Roxanne Scott, along with producer Maria White Tillman and senior editor Susanna Capelouto went to Atlanta Metropolitan College to meet with a group of college students, including students from Clark Atlanta University. We wanted to understand how younger women voters are seeing the 2020 Election.
While there, we found out that one of the students co-hosts a podcast on politics. We reached back out for an interview to understand what they’re doing and why. This story was produced before the protests of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor deaths.