Yup, you read that right. It's about to be the year 2017, 147 years after the passage of the 15th amendment, 97 years after the19th amendment, and our exceptional nation is still failing our own people. What can i say, the passage of time is no match for something so deeply woven into the fabrications of America's past, or should I say present? Forget the Plague. Voter disenfranchisement is plaguing our own country, our home this very second. Don't you get that? No. It's a game we've all grown accustom to playing; you can vote, you can vote, but not you, sorry. What's changed? We've learned to live with this parasite to the point where we don't even realize just how politically paralyzed we are. But I mean, wasn't progress achieved? Blacks can vote. Women can vote. Too bad progress doesn't have an expiration date. There's always more progress to be made. To this day, we're trapped in this past political mindset and we're letting it shape the future of voting.
So what exactly is voter disenfranchisement? It's the state of being deprived of the right or privilege to vote. Plain and simple, right? If only it were that easy...
Voter disenfranchisement goes far beyond its basic definition in the dictionary, at least it does within the American political landscape. Dare I say, it's about denying the vote to those of color. Denying the vote to those of the women gender. Denying the vote to those of minorities. It's the continuous onslaught of electoral racism by policy makers. And the worst part is, they know of the discrimination, some even flat out intended it. The gun is fully loaded. Target in sight: depriving all whom whites have deemed unfit to have a voice in our democracy. Pull the trigger.
Malcolm X didn't preach in "The Ballot or The Bullet" that "we all are going to catch the same hell from the same man. He just happens to be a white man. All of us have suffered here, in this country, political oppression at the hands of the white man" for nothing....
Under the American political system, 22 million blacks faced the filibuster from white southern congressmen at the same time as white northern politicians employed the tactic of gerrymandering. No biggie, just the entire nation dead set on depriving people of their right to exercise their American vote. The only justification: being black.
You see, the white man wielded his weapon of political power to kill the black political voice by denying the vote. But there wasn't a black political death, thanks to Malcolm X. The time for blacks, of all religious faiths, to take back what's rightfully theirs, to regain control over their own communities' politicians, to recognize their voting rights as their human rights is now. Blacks won't fall victim to white political oppression, yet again. They won't just sit on the sidelines, waiting for progress. It's either the ballot or bullet amidst this American nightmare.
Baldwin, the man in the lovely picture above, proclaims in "The American Dream" that "until the moment comes when we, the Americans, are able to accept the fact that my ancestors are both black and white, that on that continent we are trying to forge a new identity, that we need each other, that I am not a ward of America, I am not an object of missionary charity, I am one of the people who built the country--until this moment comes there is scarcely any hope for the American dream."
Baldwin rips off the mask....Matted hair. Twisting horns. Cutting claws. Sharpened teeth.....It's the beast of the American dream. Over the course of 400 years, blacks' blood, sweat, and tears enriched the American soil, only to be dehumanized in return by the white man. The bonds of slavery may have been struck down, but blacks were still bound by chain and shackles when it came to the vote. A slave to the white man's mind. A mind that's taught to hate their full, round lips, their big noses, and their dark black skin. No hope for color in this political realm. It was tainted. It was the enemy.
If you're thinking, hey, the 15th amendment was passed shortly after the Civil Rights Bill of 1866- the white man did that. Then, you're gravely mistaken. Blacks were still stripped of their God-given voting rights 100 years later. Blacks were in a prison cell, but instead of steel bars, there were literacy tests, grandfather clauses, poll taxes caging them in. What will it take for the American dream to shed its beastly skin for a new identity, where blacks from all religious backgrounds are politically equal to the white man?
Let's take a step back. Back to the very beginning, before voter disenfranchisement poisoned the American government. Back to the days Noll knows best. The days of the exegetical problem of the Bible and slavery...
At this time, southern theologians believed the Bible did indeed sanction slavery, and thus truly devout Christians should obediently accept the existence of slavery, or risk defying the ultimate divine authority. I guess abolitionists took their chances. They relied on the spirit of the Bible to attack the institution of slavery, as the mere mention of slavery in the Biblical text itself isn't enough to justify the enslavement of an entire race of people.
Think about it. If God created the white man and God created the black man, then why would God's word be to place one of his own creations beneath another? Not just once, but time and time again? From the cotton fields to the political arena? If debating over the legitimacy of slavery resulted in a Civil War, then you can sure as hell bet that the white man would stop at nothing to deprive blacks of the one thing they want- liberation at first, but then, down the road, a political voice.
Grimke embarking down the abolitionist path, calls upon Christian women to obey God. To resist the unjust nature of slavery that pollutes the religious morality and political entity of the south. To outwardly defy the white man's immoral laws, deservedly so.
Man's justification for slavery is grounded in a misconception of the Bible, when in reality, God only granted Adam dominion over all things, not his "fellow man," including "chattel personal," setting the precedent for the plight of black human rights yet to come. Isn't it funny that the founding fathers of our free Republican government, declared men of all colors equal, and yet the white man subjects blacks to the cruelty and outright horror of the chain and whip of "involuntary bondage?" Too bad, no one's laughing. If southern Christian women don't unite against the enslavement of human beings in the political sphere, then violence in the south is inevitable, now, and when it comes time for the denial of the ballot to blacks.
Progress shouldn't be a waiting game, but it did take until 1865 for the white man to formally outlaw slavery with the passage of the 13th amendment. You can only begin to imagine how long it would take for non-white minorities to get the vote.
Don't worry, I didn't forget about women. In 1851, the white man mistakenly thought he was deserving of more rights than women, "cause Christ wasn't a woman." True, yes, but Christ had to come from somewhere, more specifically God and a woman. Forget men. Truth calls upon a crowd of white women to fight alongside black women for universal women suffrage. If one woman is single-handily responsible for the birth of Christ, then all women, regardless of religion or skin color, should be able to bring about the day women can fully participate in the political arena. The day women can legally cast a vote, right?
Well, actually, most states disenfranchised women until the 19th amendment, guaranteeing all AMERICAN women the right to vote, took effect in 1920. Sorry, correction, all WHITE women, you know the true Americans. You could say it was a white out at the polls.
Now why does any of this matter? Not so long ago, in the year 2013, Alabama "shockingly" denied voting rights on the account of race, but this time, while still under the preclearance requirement of section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Covered jurisdictions, like itself, abandoned outdated first-generation barriers of blocking direct access to ballots usually through literacy tests, for the current second-generation barriers of racial gerrymandering and at-large voting within black minority states. The outcome was far from pretty. Minorities were further deprived of exercising their American right to vote, drastically reducing their ability to influence political life. That was only 3 years ago, when the VRA was still in effect. Now the question is what does the future hold in store for minorities' voting rights?
Turns out, the Supreme Court has come to the consensus that today's racial minorities miraculously face no barriers to voting in previously racially discriminatory states, as they had in the past. When the Supreme Court struck down section 4 of the Voting Rights Act on unconstitutional grounds in Shelby v. Holder, the newly freed state from preclearance coverage, Texas wasted no time in enforcing a formerly blocked voter identification law and redrawn districting maps. Guess who they targeted? Minorities. I mean why not? Redefining their voting procedures and practices no longer required federal approval before taking effect. Watch out minorities, those Texas rangers are coming to get you.
The Supreme Court's 2013 decision would lead you to believe that America has finally overcome its past of open racial discrimination towards minority voters. Haha, good one. They're trying to fool you, don't let them. Here's why: North Carolina enacted a new voter law, H.B. 589 that required stricter voter IDs, cuts to early voting, outright removal of straight-ticket voting and same-day registration, which Texas and Wisconsin didn't hesitate to replicate. Oh, yes, they were fully aware of the disproportionate racial impact these laws have on minorities in their states. But, wait for it, this is about to be the icing on the cake. These new voting laws took place immediately following the elimination of the Voting Rights Act's preclearance requirement. Coincidence? I think not.
Fast forward to the 2016 presidential election. Republicans have gone beyond the tradition of demanding stricter voter identification laws to rallying behind Trump's accusations towards Democrats. Those rotten, good-for-nothing, crooked Democrats are taking full advantage of weak voter identification laws that specifically sponsor turnout amongst Democratic minority voters, essentially ensuring Clinton's win of this "rigged" election. Let's be real, the only logical outcome is Trump's victory, just ask him yourself, or even his supporters. At the nearest voting place, you'll find Trump supporters posing as election workers, purely for the sake of intimidating racial minorities at the polls. Sounds like a blast from the past. Good thing minorities are protected by the Voting Rights Act....oh wait.....
Blacks fought for the vote. Women fought for the vote. So, when will minorities get to stop fighting, to say they fought for the vote? Years later? Centuries later? That day may never come, if we keep pretending like voting discriminations from the past are just that, in the past. You know something you read about in a history textbook.
Open your eyes. You'll see the red. You'll see disenfranchisement still bleeding from America's racially discriminatory wound into the present. It's not closing up, not without action being taken to ensure protection for minorities' voting rights. For them to be able to check off a couple boxes without violence, without fear. For the law to be on their side.