On Tuesday, the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, essentially gutted the Voting Rights of 1965 by striking down Section 4(b), which sets the formula for requiring permission from the federal government of a qualifying voting district to change its voting laws if it has a history of voting discrimination.
In giving their rationale, the conservative wing of the Court, who formed the majority with swing-vote Justice Kennedy, said that the racist conditions of 1965 were no longer present, and thus, the current formula is unconstitutional.
Quick story: I grew up in Texas. I went with my father when he voted in the Democratic Primary for the 2002 midterms. I was 16. I should mention that he and I are unmistakably white. However you perceive "whiteness", I think, on sight, 99 percent of folks in our area would guess we're conservatives. It is what it is.
We walk up to the election worker, an old white man, who was very friendly initially until my father asked where he was supposed to vote for the Democratic primary. Immediately, the man's face went sour, pointed in the direction of the area, and said, "Don't know why you'd want to vote for Democrats."
That was us. Now, imagine a person of color attempting to vote in an environment that's hostile even to stereotypically white folks who reveal they're liberals/moderates. Is it even worth the emotional pain? Why should a person of color have to factor cultural hostility into their decision to vote?
And this is before we approach the socioeconomic factors that conservatives have attempted to exploit to deter minorities and lower-class progressives from voting.
It's interesting to note that despite the president winning reelection by a healthy margin, he actually lost the majority of the white vote in 42 of 50 states. In the states we typically view as quintessentially Southern -- Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and Georgia -- the president lost 85.5 percent or more of the white vote.
Racism did not go away when we elected President Obama. It didn't go away when Oprah earned her first billion in net worth. It didn't go away when President Clinton famously honored Rosa Parks in his 1999 State of the Union, prompting an elongated standing ovation from Congress.
Being "color blind" has somehow become an excuse for being blind to racism. It has become a way for white Americans to discount the very much present racist experiences of persons of color in this country.
Racism clearly hasn't gone away if my friend, a black woman who is the furthest thing from paranoid, recently told me she still has employees hover around her in department stores, keeping an eye on her movements to prevent theft.
It clearly hasn't gone away if 17 year-old Trayvon Martin can seemingly be shot and killed for nothing more than being a black teenager wearing a hoodie and carrying a bag of Skittles.
It clearly hasn't gone away if more than a few white Americans are rushing to Paula Deen's defense for admitting that she dressed up her black workers to look like slaves for Antebellum-themed dinner parties and used the n-word.
That's what was at stake on Tuesday when the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act.
Conservative justices claimed significant racism was no longer present in areas that made the original legislation necessary.
I know a few folks who would strongly disagree.
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