Georgia’s new, enhanced, meaner, and uglier voter suppression laws have righteously outraged all who believe that democracy depends upon the right to vote. This includes easy registration and easy access. The Georgia law is just one of dozens of attempts across the country to make it harder for Black voters and other voters of color. Many opponents of the law are calling for a boycott of Georgia and Georgia-based companies until the law is repealed.
Economic boycotts, one of the most widely used forms of nonviolent protest, are as American as apple pie (whatever that means). The colonists used it before the American Revolution to protest British rule. The Quakers and other abolitionists led the “Free Produce Movement” to boycott products made with slave labor. The Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955-56), advanced the civil rights movement as it challenged and changed U.S. history. The Delano strike and boycott against grapes and lettuce (1965-1970), advanced the civil rights of Pilipino and Latinx farm workers—and also changed US and labor history. And there have been—and continue to be many others.
Two years ago, calls to boycott Georgia were in response to the passage of a draconian anti-abortion law. The progressive pro choice community was divided on the boycott—those opposing it claiming that it hurt the workers more than the corporations. This is a common argument against using the boycott, a legitimate and effective form of nonviolent direct action.
In response to Georgia’s voter suppression laws, demands to boycott Georgia are being raised, resulting in Major League Baseball’s decision to pull its 2021 All-Star Game out of Atlanta. Under mounting public pressure, major Georgia-based companies, including Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, and Home Depot—not known for progressive policies—have spoken out against the restrictive legislation. Again, boycott opponents claim it will hurt workers more than the corporate elite. To answer this claim, CSPG’s Poster of the week is using an Anti-Apartheid poster from the 1980s, stating that, “Sanctions Won't Hurt Black Workers More Than Apartheid.”