The struggle with voter suppression just got more real. A former employee for the British parent company that owned now-defunct Cambridge Analytica just came clean about an insidious plot to keep Black people away from the polls.
But who cooked up a devious strategy to suppress the Black vote?
Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who has been aligned with White nationalists and the so-called alt-right, worked with Cambridge Analytica to sabotage efforts to get African-Americans to vote, Christopher Wylie, a whistleblower on the political data firm, said Wednesday to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Wylie, who formerly worked for Cambridge’s parent company SCL, testified as part of the investigation into the firm and meddling in the 2016 election, Tech Crunch reported.
Bannon, who was previously vice president at Cambridge Analytica, supported specific tactics to disengage Black voters. Company officials planned to identify African Americans based on their social media presence and other factors, Wyle told California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris.
Bannon and more Cambridge Analytica officials had discussions to start a “culture war” by exploiting racial tensions. They talked about testing different campaign slogans in 2014 for use in the 2016 election: some of the messages were intended to promote irrational fears of Blacks and other racial groups in White Americans.
“The company learned that there were segments of the population that responded to messages like ‘drain the swamp’ or images of border walls or indeed paranoia about the ‘deep state’ that weren’t necessarily reflected in mainstream polling or mainstream political discourse that Steve Bannon was interested in to help build his movement,” Wylie said, according to Reuters.
Cambridge Analytica had hired hackers to collect data from millions of Facebook users to use against opponents of its political clients, Wylie also said. As for the receipts on Bannon and company’s horrible plot, Harris requested evidence.
It’s crucial that Black voters know all the ways that racists and corrupt officials try to suppress their voices. Going into the midterms and later the 2020 elections, Black folks must stay vigilant and call out shady suppression as well as disenfranchisement.