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By Tyra Robinson
Think about your local election period. You’re in your neighborhood, and you see a bunch of election signs, but you don’t know who these people are or what they stand for. Now think about Election Day. You’re in the parking lot skimming through the internet to get a quick glimpse of the ballot sheet and researching what you can on the other candidates aside from Congress and the President. Honestly, this is a lot of us. But are we genuinely informed enough to make a decision?
2020 was a difficult time for the world, but we were able to pay closer attention to all the pending laws and amendments that we might’ve missed, and we were able to see firsthand where they originated. With voter intimidation and voter suppression bills increasing, I’m reminded of how far we’ve come and what we stood to lose by being “comfortable” or misguided. Regardless of how hopeless everything seemed for a bit, we also witnessed many good people in communities make a positive impact. Seeing this inspired me to create Good People Vote, a call to action for all people who want to get more engaged in a fun and exciting way.
I’ve always been somewhat interested in politics; however, that’s not what led me down the road to social activism.
The idea behind Good People Vote was stirred by the desire to improve engagement within the community. Growing up, I did not learn about our historically thriving Black communities that were destroyed, and I didn’t feel a sense of community in my neighborhood. I didn’t know many of my neighbors, and I rarely witnessed neighbors looking out for one another or investing in the community.
I left my hometown of Montgomery to attend the University of Alabama at Birmingham. As a graphic design major, I began learning the impact of visual communication and was able to practice my craft with organizations and local businesses. After witnessing multiple instances of police brutality around the nation, I wanted to direct my efforts towards civic engagement and social justice for my final year. For my BFA, I created my first social justice installation titled “Unforgotten,” which centered on the deaths of Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, and Jordan Edwards. As I continued to expand this series, I also continued to partner with and support local organizations, focusing on causes that drive community engagement.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve been able to see what a healthy Black community looks like firsthand. I’ve experienced the positive impact from a sense of togetherness and involvement in the community. My knowledge of these communities inspired me to start an organization that would amplify our voices and encourages critical thinking, because I believe a good community doesn’t exist if its members are not active. My goal is to create a sense of community and turn their attention toward what I think is one of the best ways to help a community flourish – voting.
Many people do not understand how the voting process works, so they often feel like they are not part of the voting process. As a designer, my job consists of connecting the dots and finding methods to communicate through visual interpretation. My goal with Good People Vote is to use captivated visuals to pique interests in voter education and encourage critical thinking that will naturally spark community engagement among the viewers. I believe that community engagement is crucial because it creates an avenue for growth, and that type of change has long-term effects that are more difficult to uproot.
Our motto is to create social change simply by doing “good” through awareness and education. I believe that civil respect is established when communities are invested in and proud of their local voting processes. Our goal is to create opportunities for many underserved communities to be more informed and excited about voting through civic engagement and digital outreach. As we’ve observed, many communities in Birmingham are ready to make that change.
We’ve seen a spike in voting engagement, and we want to make sure this momentum is a long-term shift here in Birmingham by changing the voting culture for good. Voting should be a topic discussed as commonly as sports or music, not reserved for one audience but embraced by everyone.
When people use the phrase, “That’s life,” my response is, “On whose terms?” Voting ensures that “life” is inclusive to all citizens and not just certain groups. It changes the terms and what things are tolerated. Laws will not be put in place unless we allow them to be, whether willingly or idly. Our country simply cannot function if its citizens are not committed to it. I believe that the state of our country is first determined by how active we are in our communities and how we vote. So why not make the voting process fun? This is another goal of Good People Vote.
Even if voting is not a complete resolution, we can all agree that voting is one of the fundamental steps toward creating change, and we must protect that at all costs.
Tyra Robinson is a designer and social innovator with a BFA in Graphic Design from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Currently, she serves as an Art Director at Big Communications and founder of Good People Vote, which strives to produce engaging content concerning voting Birmingham communities. Outside of the agency, Tyra continues to create content concerning social justice issues and collaborate with local initiatives.