By Isaias WSOF | May 28, 2014 at 11:04 AM EDT | No Comments
As we quickly approach the 100th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, we are again reminded that Blacks are still being denied true equality in America and continue to suffer the vestiges of Slavery.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was intended to empower African Americans with constitutionally protected voting rights and protections, which for hundreds of years, had been legally denied them through slavery, the Dred Scott decision, Jim Crow Laws and unfair polling tactics such as poll taxes and literacy tests. Such laws were designed, imposed and enforced to effectively disempower African Americans, who were considered inferior to the mostly Caucasian “ruling classes”. These onerous laws gave rise to an institutionalized system of educational, economic, political and social hindrances and handicaps for Blacks in America. –A well-entrenched system that in 2014, still exists. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed in a genuine and perhaps naive attempt to level the political playing field for Blacks in America. However, in 2013 United States Supreme Court Justice, John Roberts and his conservative colleagues, dealt a deafening blow to section 4 of this landmark legislation.
Section 4 of the Voting RIghts Act of 1964 required legislators in many former “slave states” to request “preclearance” by the Justice Department for any proposed voting law changes in their state, thus giving the federal government power to protect and enforce the Voting Rights Act on 1965. Speaking for the republican majority of the Supreme Court, Justice Roberts argued that Section 4 denied “equal sovereignty” to these former slave states—a principle that was successfully argued in defense of the 1857 Dred Scott Case in which the Supreme Court ruled that African Americans were effectively not equal to Whites and would not be recognized as American Citizens. In defense of the court’s decision, Justice Robert’s argued that racism in America and in the South had recoiled itself and stated “…Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to the current conditions”. I find the decision of conservative majority Supreme Court Justices, John Roberts; Anthony M. Kennedy; Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito, absurd, farcical, belittling and quite frankly, insulting to Blacks and other Americans, who recognize the deeply rooted anti-Black racism, which is still a pestilence on the everyday lives of African Americans. This ruling must be challenged with courage and determination.
Certainly, there have been positive changes to the curse of racism in America--perhaps most notably in the election of President Barack Obama, America’s first African American President. To suggest however, as does Justice Roberts, that such a change is evidence that the disease of racism is all but eradicated, is tantamount to celebrating the arrival of a cancer patient’s new wig. The election of President Obama may in fact indicate signs of future change but is by no means evidence of a level political playing field for Blacks in America. As some may recall, President Obama, arguably the most influential African American in America, was recently and publically referred to as a “nigger” by New Hampshire Police Chief, Robert Copeland (now resigned). When asked to apologize, Copeland refused, stating: [President Obama] “meets and exceeds my criteria for such [not apologizing]". Clearly Robert Copeland spoke his mind without considering the repercussions but his dark thoughts have illuminated the truth that racism is still alive and well in America. Only a dishonest person would suggest there are not many millions of Americans, who share Copeland's deeply rooted racist and poisonous sentiments. –Sentiments that are known to expose their fangs at election time.
Perhaps Justice Roberts and the other conservative justices are simply eager to sweep such serious racial issues under the judicial rug. Or perhaps they just are so detached from the lives of African Americans that they simply don’t see the degree of racism that still exists. On the other hand, perhaps they themselves (Clarence Thomas included) harbor their own racist views towards Blacks.
In 2012 an Associated Press poll found that “a slight majority of Americans now express prejudice against Blacks whether they recognize those feelings or not”. Although one would expect that racial tolerance would improve with the election of President Obama, it appears the opposite is true. The AP poll found that 51 percent of Americans expressed anti-Black attitudes as opposed to 48 percent in a similar 2008 survey. Adding to that, Jon Krosnik, a Stanford University professor, who helped prepare the report, concluded; “As much as we'd hope the impact of race would decline over time ... it appears the impact of anti-black sentiment on voting is about the same as it was four years ago“
So, where does that leave Blacks now? How can the Supreme Court’s ruling be overturned in order to uphold the rights and remedies allowed for in the 1965 Voting Rights Act? Perhaps there needs to be a more powerful solution to the problem of racism and discrimination in America. Perhaps African Americans can no longer solely rely on the justice system to do the right thing. Now is the time for Blacks in America to demand the passage of the U.S. African American Restoration Act and proclaim: “We're mad as hell and we're not gonna take it anymore”
Adam Serwer/ March/19/14 http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/demeaning-insult-chief-justice-john-roberts-voting-rights-act-decision
John Schwartz/ June-25-2013 / Between the Lines of the Voting Rights Act decision /http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/06/25/us/annotated-supreme-court-decision-on-voting-rights-act.html?_r=0
Wikipedia / Jim Crow Laws / http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Crow_laws
Lucy Mccalmont / 5-19-2014
Sonya Ross and Jennifer Agiesta / Oct. 27, 2012