Forty-eight hours ago proud tweets from African-Americans started trickling in about how great it was that Black outrage contributed to Paula Deen getting fired. And let’s not minimize the importance of that move: for so long Black America was the safe target for a celebrity to insult. You can get a nice suspension if you say something racist about Black America, but you were toast if GLAAD got a hold of you. So, it was nice to know that people could actually get in trouble for dropping N-bombs. It was a victory to see Deen get her comeuppance.
Then the Supreme Court came through and knocked over the buildings to remind us it’s chess not checkers. Earlier today, the Court tore the guts out of the Voter Rights Act, allowing states free reign to enact voter identification laws as they see fit. Now, Congress still has its chance to explicitly outline which states are affected and try to give some teeth back to the act, but it’s looking bleak.
Basically, the 2012 election left America at a crossroads. The Republican party realized that it was at a loss. Somewhere along the last few years, the party lost any footing it had with minorities and the country’s minority population essentially decided an entire election. Republicans were faced with a dilemma: how do we change ourselves to attract more minorities to cross party lines?
The answer? You don’t.
You think Jay-Z is mastering #NewRules? He doesn’t have anything on the Supreme Court, who essentially gave the Republican Party a free pass to keep ignoring minorities. If you don’t like losing, then just change the rules of the game and that’s what just happened. Now, minorities could be faced with increased voter discrimination and barriers to electing who they want in office.
And you better believe politicians are champing at the bit to start the process. Texas is already saying it’ll enact voter registration laws immediately, which other states probably not far behind.
My father was a Freedom Rider and a Civil Rights activist who risked his life and others to get thousands to vote in the South. He lost friends and endured unimaginable pain to accomplish those goals. Forty-five years later, he saw the first African-American President get elected. Five years after that, he now has to watch the apparent end of the voting rights he fought so hard to achieve.
And, to think, all of this happened just in time for Independence Day.