Proxysaid Tuesday that she felt punished and offended in the summer of 2020 while having questions about her ability to do the job of the Vice President of the United States when then-candidate Joe Biden was considering choosing her as his fellow campaigner. Abrams spoke to author N.K. Jemison on the first day of the South by Southwest Festival, which is practically happening this year.
“I was punished for refusing to hold back and pretend I didn’t have the ability to do the job because I didn’t have the title and positions people were used to,” Abrams said and added that she was asked a question that very few people have to grapple with.
“There was all of these insults instead of looking at the basic question. I was asked the question that white men don’t get, ‘Are you qualified?'” Abrams said.
The former Georgia House minority leader said there was “an absolute discomfort” in society with “the boldness of people of color who think we belong in rooms and declare we deserve access”.
In 2018, Abrams lost the race for governor of Georgia to Republican Brain Kemp with less than 55,000 votes. She said the “blockade of so many thousands of voters certainly had an impact on the outcome” and jokingly referred to the course of her career as an “asymptote of success”.
“I get really close to crossing the line, but I never quite get over it,” Abrams said. She noted that she could become more involved in electoral activism “because of an act of perfidy by someone in power who decided that people who looked like me shouldn’t be as active and proactive in their politics.”
Abrams, who is releasing a new political fiction book “While Justice Sleeps” in May, attributed much of her political success to storytelling and electoral involvement.
“You have to center the voter, the citizen and the person in the narrative,” Abrams said. “If it’s about someone else and they can’t see that they are benefiting from it or falling victim to it, then give them a reason not to pay attention.”
Abrams, who founded Fair Fight Action in 2018, a national organization that deals with voter suppression, said voters need to remain vigilant in order to hold elected officials accountable “because life happens between elections”.
She said the 250+ proposals to restrict voting in states across the country are currently attempting to reverse the progress of voters, who appeared in record numbers in the last election cycle, to have their votes heard.
“We worked to attract the highest number of color communities as active voters in Georgia in the history of the state. We told them a story about their power,” Abrams said. “And now we have 253 bills across the country trying to undo their performance.”
Last week, the Senate in Georgia narrowly passed a law that repeals no-excuse absentee voting when signed into law. During the November elections, 1.3 million Georgia voters cast postal ballots to cast their votes.
The new bill also creates stricter identification requirements for those wishing to vote by mail and would make Georgia one of the most difficult states to apply for a postal vote.
On Sunday, during an interview with CNN, Abrams called pressure from Republican lawmakers to add more election restrictions “racist” and a “redux from Jim Crow in a suit and tie”.
“The only connection we can find is that more people of color voted, and this has changed the outcome of the election in a direction Republicans don’t like,” Abrams told CNN. “Instead of celebrating better access and participation, their response is to try to prevent access to voting primarily to color communities,” she added.
Abrams spoke on the first day of the South by Southwest virtual festival held annually in Austin, Texas. Other notable politicians speaking at the festival later this week include Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, Senator Amy Klobuchar and former President George W. Bush.