The civil rights movement is widely recognized as one of the most significant events in American history. That being said, and seeing that the movement’s climax was a mere 40 years ago, you would think that it would have obvious consequences that would still be relevant today. Whether people want to believe it or not, race continues to play a significant role in life in America.
Cue the Rant!
The civil rights movement was a counter attack on the consequences of slavery, which is something that happened more than a century ago. Since then people have been adjusting to morality, especially when it comes to race. America has gone from legalized slavery to denying civil rights to now covertly promoting laws and regulations that hold blacks back.
The new push for Voter ID laws, particularly in Mississippi, is one example of covert racism in my mind. Right after the Supreme Court decision announcing parts of the Voting Rights Act outdated, Mississippi’s Secretary of State, a Republican, moved to implement an already-passed Voter ID law, since federal approval was no longer needed. Mississippi Republicans claim the law makes common sense and it’s not a big deal to have to show your ID when you vote. They claim it prevents voter fraud, but they are ignoring a few important facts. They know that voter fraud is virtually non-existent in the United States because most people in this country simply don’t vote. And, studies have shown that some people don’t believe their votes amount to much, so there probably aren’t hoards of people committing voter fraud in order to sway elections.
Most importantly, since some people barely vote now, putting more restrictions and criteria on voting will discourage voters even more, and they just won’t do it. Period. Voter ID supporters should also know that there are plenty of older people who have been voting for years in the same place and in the same way without a photo ID. Simply put, this law isn’t meant to curb “voter fraud,” or help in any other way. This law only discourages voting in poorer and minority communities.
The George Zimmerman trial is another perfect example of what happens when a law is made that has a disproportionate effect on the black community. I’m talking about the “Stand Your Ground” law. This law appears to be an extension of self-defense, but it broadens the language to make it even easier to use deadly force. It’s no secret that our American justice system is generally unfair and disproportionately incarcerates more black men than any other race. Laws like these help continue that trend. Because of this law and padded with self defense, a man walked free after killing a 17-year-old boy during a confrontation which he pursued and initiated with his own actions. He claimed that in the midst of the confrontation he felt his life was in danger. Never mind that the boy was defending himself as well. And while the defense and supporters of Zimmerman said race played no part in this, everyone knows it did. Everyone knows Zimmerman racially profiled the boy. And the black community knows that this 17-year-old boy would still be alive right now if he weren’t black. And that is a shame.
My third example is what I’ll call a “pushing out the poor campaign,” which has started in Pearl, Mississippi. Of course leaders won’t call it that, but this is exactly what it is. They know that poor equals minorities. In Pearl, leaders are pushing to pass city ordinances that require rental properties and apartments to provide storm shelters and have storm sirens on the property to warn residents of incoming danger. Now, make no mistake, this doesn’t have the slightest thing to do with safety and most people can see right through this. This has everything to do trying to “clean up” their town and the creators of this ordinance think the best way to do that is try to drive our the poor and minorities. By requiring landlords to have this equipment requires them to pay for it and that in turn will make them past the costs to the consumers.
After the legal hurdles of slavery are gotten over, next is the psychological hurdle. And this hurdle takes much more patience and time because we must work on changing mindsets, changing habits and committing to real change. And that applies to both sides of the coin. Not only are we trying to change the black community’s mindsets, but also the rest of the country’s mindsets. People must accept the fact that racism is still strong and prevalent in society, even though we don’t see it displayed openly like it used to be. We must come to grips with our ugly past, and recognize that even with a black president and incredible, substantial progress, we have so much further to go.
You see, it’s no longer out in the open because people decided they weren’t going to put up with it. But that won’t stop some people from trying. And those same people who talk about how they are tired of people playing the race card and swear they aren’t racist ARE racist. They don’t think they are but they are. They’re usually the ones that make conscious decisions to move to areas away and distance themselves from diversity. They feel that since they aren’t openly running around spewing racial slurs that they aren’t racist. But in fact they are – and they are the worst type of racist person…the one that isn’t conscious of what they’re doing or just simply don’t want to believe it.
I was really mean in this one. So next week I’ll take it easy. And if I pissed you off, remember it’s probably because you’re racist. But still, don’t forget to cue the Sir Charles.