Georgia Votes: Oslo Grace

Georgia Votes: Oslo Grace

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Georgia Votes: Oslo Grace

The rising model talks about the importance of self-education and the crucial conversations everyone needs to have.

The rising model talks about the importance of self-education and the crucial conversations everyone needs to have.

Photography: Inez & Vinoodh

Text: Gautam Balasundar

"What really changed my views was moving to New York City," says Oslo Grace, the 21-year old breakout model who has walked in both men's and women's shows for brands like Gucci and Balenciaga. Coming to the city about four years ago turned out to be transformative for Grace, especially at a time of political upheaval. "I think the one thing that really kicked it off was realizing how little I knew of my own LGBT community and the history, I just had no concept of where we had come from," he continues. "Everyone in New York City is so passionate about that, I wanted to know who my ancestors were essentially. Through going through that, just meeting more minority groups who were standing up for human rights, I wanted to be a part of that."

That desire quickly turned into a commitment. "It involved a lot of listening, and also showing up in ways that I could, that wasn't overshadowing minority voices in the process. So it did involve protesting, it did involve dinner table conversations, it did involve friends getting together and just watching what was going on around us, learning as a white person where you are of most help, committing to self-education, and learning and unlearning." Self-education was key to shaping Grace's worldview, and in the midst of all that has happened in the recent past, three books spoke to him: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reno Eddo-Lodge, and most importantly, How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. "It was just so illuminating, it talks about why neutrality or apathy in these situations is devastating. And that just spoke to me, especially when looking at the communities I come from." All of this taught Grace how important it is to pay attention, to engage, and to perpetually continue the dialogue. "If you can show up in your community for outreach, whether that's volunteering or protesting...just hearing people that are in pain. It's incredibly important moving forward, and I don't think after this year that has to stop."

Now, Grace, has his eyes turned to the Georgia election, and he puts its importance succinctly: "It decides how the senate will lean and that makes a huge impact on what President-elect Biden will be able to pass in his first year, and a lot of that is going to have to be a lot of undoing. That is just critical to people right now, especially in minority communities." He's most aware of the impact on healthcare, as well as the continued support for organizations like BLM that the outcome of this election can have. "There are really real consequences if this doesn't go the way that we're hoping. And so putting our faith back into democracy, and hearing people's voices, it's critical. People have really felt that that process has been threatened recently."

Still, Grace is hopeful, and it comes back down to his simple, but the ever-important idea of talking and listening to those around you. He's conscious of how resonant those dinner table conversations can be, extending far beyond our New York bubble. "Human connection, I think, is really what's giving me hope. I know the election atmosphere has been extremely tense, but the fact that we are electing a more diverse crew of people who really care about the seat they're in—in a way that has never been seen in this country—gives me hope."

Election Day

If you’d like to vote in-person for this election, just make sure you’re registered and plan out your Election Day plan so you have the time to go and vote on January 5th, 2021. Find your local polling station here, and remember how important it is to exercise your right to vote!

Need a ride to the polls? Plus1Vote is partnering with Uber to provide free rides for the current Georgia senate runoffs! You can use the voucher code “VoteGA”  for a free ride on January 5th! Available here.

 

Absentee Voting

You can also vote absentee for the Georgia Senate runoff.

To do so you can complete this application online (you’ll need your county, state ID number, birth date, and legal name). You can also fill out this PDF and return it to your county board of registrars via mail or email.

Absentee ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, January 5. You can also drop off your ballot at an official county drop box up until 7 p.m. on Election Day. Check your county’s election website for details and dropbox locations.

For more information, head to Plus1Vote for all of your voter questions.

Credits: PHOTOGRAPHY: AGENT Kim Pollock (VLM Studio), PRODUCER: Tucker Burbilis (VLM Studio), PRODUCTION COORDINATOR: Eva Harte (VLM Studio), LIGHTING DIRECTOR: Jodokus Driessen (VLM Studio), STUDIO MANAGER: Marc Kroop (VLM Studio), DIGITAL TECHNICIAN: Brian Anderson (VLM Studio), ON-SITE PRODUCTION: PRODUCER: Gabe Hill (GE Projects), PRODUCTION MANAGER: Suzy Kang (GE Projects), PHOTO ASSISTANT: Chad Ofstedhal, ON-SITE STUDIO REP: Denise Solis

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