There are those who would have us believe that because overt racism is less socially acceptable than it has been in decades past, we are now living in a post-racial society. But some things have yet to truly leave us; voter suppression, and the racism that fuels it, are perfect examples.
The 1873 Colfax Massacre illustrates how voter suppression used to be achieved through outright violence, and you can read about how the tactics of voter disenfranchisement changed between 1880 and 1965 here. Since then, just as Reagan’s "welfare queens" have morphed into Romney’s "entitlement class" and "the 47%," the tactics of voter suppression have become both more subtle and more insidious. Today, we’ve entered an era of indirect voter disenfranchisement, like voter ID laws.
Brentin Mock has been providing ongoing coverage of the battle against voter ID in Pennsylvania. As Ben Jealous, the president of the national NAACP, told Brentin:
This hurts people of color, it disproportionately hurts poor people, and it hurts working people of all colors… [It] puts an entire bureaucracy between them and their vote.
Pennsylvania Republicans recently tried to redefine "disenfranchisement," in order the deflect the charge that their voter ID law was unconstitutional. Since the ruling came down against Pennsylvania’s voter ID law, Representative Daryl Metcalfe, lead sponsor of the voter ID bill and House State Government Committee majority chairman, said of the decision:
Rather than making a ruling based on the constitution and the law, this judicial activist decision is skewed in favor of the lazy who refuse to exercise the necessary work ethic to meet the commonsense requirements to obtain an acceptable photo ID.
Reader Carol Carter responded:
They really know what laziness really looks like, since they’re the same people who daily amass great wealth by sitting […] in air-conditioned buildings, while others labor from sun up to sun down for minimum wage to keep them in the over-privileged positions they proclaim are gained through hard work.
Of course, voter suppression is just one of the ways Black Americans are being disenfranchised in today’s political landscape. Though many may be familiar with the history of white theft of Native lands, there is a lesser known story of land theft from Black traditional cultures. This past week, Imara Jones reported on how the Geechee (or Gullah) people of Georgia’s Sea Islands, are in jeopardy of losing their land, as real estate developers attempt to snatch it up to build fancy resorts.
Carol Carter again:
If black Churches could shift their focus from trying to get God to grant them a place with him in heaven after we die, to helping us enjoy life on Earth "NOW" in equal proportion to those who think that we should remain their prey on earth forever; life would become a wonderful journey for black humans NOW! Second, they could also take focus off of what homosexuals are doing in the privacy of their own homes, and try to arrest the more vicious indecency of continued financial predation on black people worldwide. Third, they we could ask ourselves whose side is the God we serve on, when the slavery that brought our ancestors to the land in question simply keeps morphing endlessly, by new tactics and new names? […] Maybe Black Churches are keeping us passive to ignore the fact that we do have a set of humans on earth who will always see us as their prey. And as long as we forget this, we’ll remain easy targets to such callous, persistent PREDATORS on our lives.
Republicans should think twice before calling the poor "lazy" and "entitled." This week, Jamilah King reported on technological innovation in a low-income neighborhood that’s helping Detroit residents help themselves. Mesh wireless network technology is allowing Detroit residents to share internet access, which can then be used to access jobs and other resources.
Colorlines reader Rahul Varshney commented:
Let’s do the same thing down here 🙂 I guess I need to start with my apartment complex!
Patrick Haggood added:
Actually, SpeakEasy (now MegaPath) offered a service called ‘Netshare’ which encouraged this kind of connection sharing; couldn’t find it on their site but I’m guessing if they still have it from SpeakEasy it’s quite buried.
Looks good, but I worry that jobs don’t follow the internet. In fact, here in New York, almost all book and record stores have closed due to Amazon.bleeping.com. I talk to young folks all around the country, and most agree they think the internet loses jobs. Along with greed-based capitalism and privatized colleges.
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