Hollywood, There Are Better Ways to Protest Georgia’s Voting Law Than a Boycott

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Bethany Anne Lind is a gardener, mother and actor in Atlanta, Georgia, best known for her roles in Ozark, Reprisal and indie feature Blood on Her Name. Guest column in THR. 

Y’all. I admit, when I heard there were murmurings of Hollywood boycotting the Georgia film industry again after Governor Kemp signed the egregious SB 202, I ignored them. Surely, I thought, these nice liberals from the West Coast haven’t forgotten our oh-so-recent history together. I asked my friends who were speaking out against the boycott threats to quiet down. Let’s not add fuel to the tiny fire, I told them. Our energy should be spent on fighting actual voter suppression, not on fighting those ostensibly fighting for the same thing.

A basic recap: in 2018, Stacey Abrams lost her gubernatorial bid to Brian Kemp, who refused to recuse himself as Secretary of State, therefore overseeing his own election. He then sought to pass GA HB481, the “heartbeat bill,” and dozens of West Coast activists lobbied for filming to halt in Georgia as punishment. The bill was mere fodder for his base and has never been implemented as it was immediately met with legal challenges and ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge.

At the time, nearly everyone I knew in the Atlanta film market took to Twitter, all but begging the industry power brokers that hold the reigns here to consider the real consequences of a boycott. Having recently read Stride Toward Freedom, Martin Luther King Jr.’s personal account of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, history-making activism was fresh on my mind. I wondered if productions in Georgia who were pondering other shooting locations had considered arguably the most effective boycott in American history.

At the risk of being yet another well-meaning white person invoking the name of Dr. King, I think a recap of this more distant history might be useful for my Twitter activist colleagues as well. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was intricately designed with the consent of and leadership by those who would suffer the most. Ride shares in a pre-Uber era were arranged and some white employers (though certainly not the majority) sympathetic to the cause made arrangements with their Black employees. Ultimately though, there were people who walked miles and miles and miles in rain, cold, and blistering Alabama heat for over a year. They agreed to it, they signed on from the beginning, because they saw the bigger picture — a country where Black people are treated as human beings, with the dignity they already lived by. What history owes those courageous souls who walked to give all of us a more beautiful world can only be repaid by continuing to fight for it.

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