I have observed a disturbing trend in recent times. It seems that in every instance the race card is dealt, it is followed by a chorus of hand-slappers—those who insist that race is not the issue but some other dynamic at work. When did we eradicate racism from this country? How did these hand-slappers become so schooled in the science of racism? I am an African American woman who day in and day out sees blatant racist behavior and practices. One need not look far to see that racism is alive and well in the United States. Look at the statistics of the educational preparation of black and Hispanic children versus white children. Look at the demographic make-up of our jails and prisons…and our best equipped classrooms. Look at the disparity wages of blacks and Hispanics doing the same work as whites…and the ascent into management. Look at the unemployment rates for African Americans displaced during the recession versus whites who were displaced? The good ole boy system is alive and well.
And let’s not forget the media? Let’s just look at the recent coverage of the Olympics. Why would MSN feature a headline on the woes of the hair of African American women on the day after Gabrielle Douglas wins a gold medal for the United States? Why would they feature a headline on Serena Williams bashing a dance from her past community rather than a headline applauding gold medals in singles and doubles tennis?
During the last four years, I have seen President Obama disrespected over and over again in a manner no previous President has had to endure. How many presidents have ascended to office without a thorough validation of citizenship? None! And yet, the birthers have continued their relentless hounding. How many previous presidents have been called liar from the floor by a Senator, and that is exactly what Senator Joe White did to our President? How many previous presidents have been compared to a tar baby by a Congressman? None! And yet, that is exactly what Congressman Doug Lamborn did to our President?
And, God knows that I believe that all those that vote should do so legally—and not illegally. But why the huge push to clean up the situation now? No one was trying to do so when President Bush or Governor Jeb Bush were running for office? Why now, when President Obama has the black vote and the Hispanic vote secured? Thirty-three states, almost all of them Republican-controlled, now require some sort of voter ID. A decade ago, none did. A decade ago, there was no evidence of massive voter fraud. Today, there remains little evidence of voter fraud. But there is clear evidence that the sudden increase of voter-ID laws could have a profound impact on African-American participation at the polls. Recent studies show that 8 percent of white voting-age citizens lack a government-issued ID, while 25 percent of black voting-age citizens lack one. President Obama received 95 percent of the African-American vote in 2008—and the mandate seems to be, get him out…by any means necessary.” Think that’s an exaggeration? Jim Greer, the former chair of the Florida Republican Party, has accused the GOP of engaging in voter suppression, in statements given under sworn testimony claims he became uncomfortable with leading the party when an official began to openly discuss voter suppression tactics that would keep blacks from participating in the electoral process.
I could go on and on…but I think that is enough to get my point across. Please don’t get me wrong. I know many people have moved beyond this racism thing. Many of them are my friends and would not hesitate to stand beside me on civil rights issues. But that does not mean this fight is over. It does not mean this evil thing has been eradicated. There is still much work to do.