Queen City Nerve

Charlotte's Cultural Pulse

Editor’s Note: Vote, Eat Chicken, Mind Your Business
Shaming is not the strategy

By Ryan Pitkin

August 27, 2019

Luckily I got in before the rush started.

It was Aug. 15 when Q.C. Nerve publisher Justin LaFrancois and I stopped at the Popeyes on North Tryon Street to check out the new chicken sandwich, which at that point had been building some buzz on Twitter, but before the now-famous “…y’all good?” tweet from Popeyes to Chick-fil-A on Aug. 19 that turned a playful debate between Twitter users over which restaurant made a better chicken sandwich into a full-fledged national craze.

I’ll get my review out of the way before I go any further: that chicken sandwich is good shit, better than anything Chick-fil-A has ever cooked up. In fact, I went back for another on the following Monday — the day of The Tweet — and the line was longer but nothing crazy yet.

Ryan Pitkin (Photo by Ryan Solan)

When I drove by that same Popeyes location on Sunday, Aug. 25, the drive-thru line was all the way down North Tryon — I’m talking a blocks-long line reaching more than a half-mile down the road.

The sandwich is good, but there are very few things I’ll sit in a line that long for, and “fast food” ain’t one of them. To each their own, however; who am I to judge?

According to Twitter, though, there are plenty of folks who don’t think that way. Just as the frenzy over Popeyes chicken reached peak fervor, Twitter users began to do what Twitter users do best: manufacture hot takes.

A quick Twitter search shows that folks really started to lay the shame on heavy around Aug. 24. “Y’all are standing in long ass lines for Popeyes chicken sandwiches. I sure as Hell hope you stand in lines like this for the voting polls for our next president,” wrote Yolynda Rayas. “If y’all got time to stand in line for awhile for a Popeyes Chicken Sandwich, you got time to vote,” said Irvin Camacho.

The worst one I found was from someone named Maddie: “Damn it’s sad y’all can stand in line to eat Popeyes chicken sandwich but couldn’t do the same to vote that’s why we have the president we have now cause y’all.” An even more inexplicable tweet on the 25th asked why the line at the unemployment office isn’t as long as the ones at Popeyes, followed by “When are we gonna wake up.” Ummm, huh?

First off, we all know why Trump won the election, and it wasn’t because of the people standing in line at Popeyes; it was because of the people who hate the people standing in line at Popeyes. They hate the people working at Popeyes, they hate the people taking part in the Twitter debate and they hate the people covering it in the media.

It would be easy to paint a picture at the North Tryon Popeyes; right across the street sits the Sugar Creek Public Library, one of 13 early-voting locations around the city that opened on Aug. 22 and will remain open until Sept. 6. After that, Sept. 10 will be the last chance to vote in local primary elections, which are the elections to pay attention to when it comes to city council.

But to paint that picture would be to use false equivalency. Shame is not the tool to use if you want to get out the vote. Getting out the vote means informing people of the local issues at play, giving them a reason to vote and, most importantly, making it easier to do so. In other words, fight voter suppression before you blame the victims. 

That’s what 17-year-old Myers Park High School student David Ledbetter was doing over the weekend while the intellectually lazy were on social media shaming their peers.

As reported by WCNC, Ledbetter saw the lines forming at a Popeyes near his home and, along with a group of people campaigning for school board candidate Stephanie Sneed, stood outside registering people to vote as they waited for their food. According to WCNC, Ledbetter registered 16 people to vote in a day. That’s not bad considering turnout for the last local primary was at about 8%.

If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a few times every two years: These off-year elections are the ones that have the most impact on our daily lives. Pay attention to who’s running in your district. Start with our Election Guide, which will hit racks (and this website) early tomorrow, and then dig a little deeper.

In the meantime, eat shame-free sandwiches. Go to the unemployment office, or go to your job, or go home; I don’t care what you do. But I would ask that you at least read up on your local candidates, because an informed vote in an election where every vote has an impact? That’s good shit, too.

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