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'In the Thick' Podcast Hosts Discuss Voter Suppression, the Role of Media at Harvard IOP

2020 Elections and Communities of Color
At the Institute of Politics on Tuesday evening, Maria Hinojosa, Julio Ricardo Varela, LaTosha Brown and Renée Graham discussed the current engagement of communities of color within the 2020 election and the important role that these communities have in shaping the next four years of the country.

Co-hosts of podcast “In the Thick” Maria Hinojosa and Julio R. Varela ‘90, Boston Globe Associate Editor Renée Graham, and Institute of Politics Resident Fellow LaTosha Brown discussed the role of voter suppression and the importance of minority voter turnout at the IOP Tuesday evening.

The event, titled “2020 Election and Engaging Communities of Color,” doubled as an episode of “In the Thick.” Hinojosa and Varela moderated the panel, which covered a wide array of topics, including next year’s Democratic presidential primary and the mainstream media’s coverage of presidential campaigns.

Brown, who is also the co-founder of the Black Voters Matter Fund, was the first panelist to bring up voter suppression, which she described as the “black-brown elephant that’s in the room.”

“Wherever there are brown and black people, I can guarantee you there’s voter suppression,” Brown said. “We see voter suppression as the voter suppression that happens on election day. There is a spectrum of voter suppression. Anything that prevents people from having free and fair access — open access to the ballot — that’s voter suppression.”

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The rest of the panelists agreed that voter suppression is a pertinent issue for people of color. Graham said the lack of press coverage that voter suppression and gerrymandering have received from the mainstream press is problematic.

“You can write about what has happened in Georgia, in 2018, where all of these polling places were being closed. You can write that story,” Graham said. “The problem is that story isn’t sexy.”

The panelists also said that, despite an early polling lead, former Vice President Joseph Biden is far from a shoe-in for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“If you were to take the vote right now, I do believe Biden would win,” Brown said. “But that does not necessarily mean that the person who’s with Biden now could not be persuaded to not be with him a month from now.”

Graham added that “the polls right now mean nothing.”

“We’re still not close to the primaries yet,” she said. “There’s so much that can still happen.”

Many attendees of Tuesday’s event raised their hands when asked if they listen to “In the Thick,” described on its website as a podcast “where journalists of color tell you what you’re missing from the mainstream news.”

“It’s good to have an event that mentions the role that people of color are going to have in this election — to have people of color actually share their perspective,” Harvard Kennedy School student and event attendee Chidinma A. Agu said. “Lots of great points were made, particularly the point about voter suppression being a lot more than just what happens on election day.”

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