Lifestyles of the Rich, Famous and Political: What Are Black Celebrities Doing on Election Day 2020? [Updating]

Joy To The Polls
Joy To The Polls
Graphic: Courtesy of Election Defenders

This is the day the overlord has made, let us cringe and be anxious in it.

The most politicized Tuesday of the year—also known as Election Day—has finally arrived, which means today will be a very vote-heavy day. Yes, that even includes my beat in entertainment, as celebrities definitely have a lot to say about today.

On Election Day Eve, Tracy Chapman made a rare TV appearance and performed her now-classic hit, “Talkin’ ‘Bout a Revolution” on Late Night With Seth Meyers.

Tracy Chapman on Late Night With Seth Meyers / YouTube

As we’ve already reported, celebrities such as Beyoncé, Cardi B, Gabourey Sidibe, and Lizzo have been using their platforms to encourage voting in various ways. In a last-ditch effort to amplify voting at the polls, celebrities are taking to social media on Election Day, as well.


Folks like Kerry Washington and Lil Rel took to Instagram with their own voting day messages.

“Michigan is fired-up [expressed using emojis] and ready to vote!!!!!!!,” Washington wrote in her IG caption. “Felt so good to be back here with all these uh-may-zing volunteers, union workers and activists who care about making their community a better place. It’s not too late to be heard, but the time is NOW!”


“It’s going to be a lot of anxiety in the air which is why we should all lean on each other while this all plays out,” Rel posted. “I pray you have a safe and mentally stable election day. God bless you all and have a great day!!!!”

Megan Thee Stallion said voting is “real hot girl shit;” LeBron James stressed how much we need “everything to change;” Viola Davis encouraged us to vote for the “voiceless;” and Zoë Kravitz posted a powerful video directed by her mom, Lilakoi Moon (professionally known as Lisa Bonet).


On the topic of voter suppression, Tracee Ellis Ross reminded potential voters of their legal rights, while her birthday twin Gabrielle Union posted a handy chart for those braving the long lines.


2020 The Root 100 honoree Yahya Abdul-Mateen II joined a massive movement to inform folks about same-day voter registration (participating locations include California, Colorado, Connecticut, D.C., Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming).


Yara Shahidi, a first-time presidential voter who represents the generations of the future, not only focused on today’s election but encouraged everyone to continue to make their voices heard even after Election Day.


Overall, there have been some notable celebrity endorsements for the Joe Biden/Kamala Harris ticket such as Ava DuVernay, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, Billy Porter and more.


Then, of course, there is always Natasha Rothwell (Insecure) with her daily “you are trash” messages to Donald Trump.


I wonder if she’ll do a special tweet-a-thon today? Speaking of the devil...

Did we mention the swarm of rappers who basically decided to resummon their vintage pictures with Donald Trump and endorse him for 4 more orange-in-office years? Yeah, that happened and yeah we did. Sigh. It is key to mention here that there’s an ongoing conversation about the dismantling of celebrity culture in general during the COVID-era, but maybe that deeper dive is best-suited for another time and a separate blog.


Let’s end this one on a joyful note, though.

If you’re active on social media, you may have seen a viral video of Black folks dancing last month as they wait in the long line to cast their ballot for the 2020 presidential election. There’s certainly a divide on whether the long lines inspire civic pride or voter suppression disgust (or maybe a little bit of both); regardless, it looks like these Black voters wanted to try to claim some sort of joy out of this calamity.


This video was the official kickoff for #JoyToThePolls. A non-partisan initiative from Frontline Election Defenders, #JoyToThePolls has a goal of making Election Day a day of voting celebration—which is probably a truly earnest effort since most of the world is pretty anxious about this evening.


#JoyToThePolls performers on Election Day include Offset (from Migos), Busta Rhymes, Mulatto, Vic Mensa, Big Daddy Kane, and more. “Hundreds of talented artists and musicians are showing up all over the country to bring Joy to the Polls on Election Day,” Nelini Stamp, campaign director for Election Defenders, and creator of Joy to the Polls said in a statement. “In the face of a global pandemic, threats of violence, and long lines designed to suppress the vote, the people are fighting back with joy. Together, we will make voting more accessible for all.”


Grab your popcorn, libations, and any other forms of self-care today, y’all. This is going to be…a show.

Updated: Tuesday, 11/3/2020, 3:00 p.m. ET: We also just got word of two more Election Day happenings in the entertainment world.


Black Lives Matter co-founder and executive director Patrisse Cullors will be hosting her first-ever live show, which will stream via her YouTube channel called, “Patrisse Cullors + BLMPAC Present: Live From Election Night” featuring appearances by Tracee Ellis Ross, Yara Shahidi, Tessa Thompson and more.

Additionally, Common will bring some “Movement Music” to The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on Wednesday to perform his new song, “Say Peace,” and will be joined by Black Thought from The Roots and PJ Morton.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.

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In such a thoroughly divided political country, I can’t beat the feeling that celebrities so often stick to telling people to vote instead of adding their opinion because some of them honestly don’t care enough about the problems to vote against someone more likely to tax them less.

It’s obvious that money matters more to some people than anything else at all, and I hate to be Negative Nancy, but I just can’t stop wondering about the possibility that some rich millionaire is getting us all in our feelings and encouraging us to vote because this might really be the time when we win...all the while knowing damn well they hope the person MORE in the pocket of billionaires will win so they have a few extra million dollars to invest in themselves only.

I guess I see the uselessness of the non-partisan “VOTE!!!” sentiment, because anyone who isn’t already planning on voting (at any point) could vote either way, and without information, why would they do anything different? But a celebrity, even if they truly are hoping for the best for all of us, doesn’t say “Vote for Biden!”, they stick to the middle of the road, possibly just so as not to turn off anyone who disagrees, but just as possible that they don’t want to lift us all up then reveal that they care more about money than people.