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Voting Rights, Trayvon Martin and Paula Deen in Post-Race America

July 1, 2013 Leave a comment

paula deen today show crying 660 videograb1America is not post-race. Having a black president signals progress, but doesn’t mean the country has moved beyond race and the tortured conversations that follow it. If you have any doubt, take a look at last week’s headlines. Two Supreme Court decisions, a high-profile murder trial and a foul-mouthed, clueless celebrity chef and brought conversations about race in this country front and center.

Wrong on Voting Rights

Last week, a divided Supreme Court ripped apart the landmark Voting Rights Act, striking down the way Congress has monitored states with a history of discrimination.

Declaring that “our country has changed in the past 50 years,” John Roberts and the court’s four other conservative justices said the 1965 law cannot be enforced unless Congress updates it to account for a half-century of civil rights advances.

Really? Has America advanced that much. Of course not. To prevent African Americans from voting in the past, racists used poll taxes, literacy tests, and sometimes harassment, intimidation and violence. These days it’s increased demands for I.D.

President Obama agrees, calling the decision a setback. The ruling “upsets decades of well-established practices that help make sure voting is fair, especially in places where voting discrimination has been historically prevalent,” Obama noted in a written statement. An angry, dissenting Justice Ruth Ginsburg went further, responding that “Hubris is a fit word for today’s demolition of the [voting rights act].”

The End of Affirmative Action (Almost)

Does affirmative action to provide increased college opportunities for students of color discriminate against white people? The Supreme Court isn’t sure, but thinks so.

Last week, the justices sent a case involving affirmative action back to the lower courts, effectively making it harder for universities to use race as a factor in admission. The case was brought by Abigail Fisher, a white student who was denied admission to the University of Texas, which uses race as an admission factor.

“The attainment of a diverse student body serves values beyond race alone, including enhanced classroom dialogue and the lessening of racial isolation and stereotypes,” U.S. Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.

Sure, makes sense. But it’s also a question of race and numbers, especially for black men. African-American males make up 5 percent of the U.S. college population–but 40 percent of the prison population. The unemployment rate of black males with only a high school diploma stands at 15.5 percent; having a B.A. cuts that number in half.

It doesn’t take a college degree to put 2 + 2 + 2 together. College leads to employment which leads away from prison–and affirmative action helps deserving students of color get into college. Period.

Who’s the Biggest Racist of All?

Is it Trayvon Martin, who referred to George Zimmerman as a “cracker?” Or Zimmerman, who shot him, presumably because he was a young black man in a hoodie?

George-Zimmerman

That question was highlighted last week at Zimmerman’s murder trial.  Thursday 19-year-old Rachel Jeantel, a friend of Martin’s, testified that she was talking to Martin by cellphone shortly before he was shot. He told her a “creepy-ass cracker” was watching him. Did that comment  make 17-year-old Martin a racist, too?

Not even close. And who cares if he was. Martin isn’t on trial; he’s dead. Cracker, a perjorative term for whites, much more common in the South and in the past, doesn’t carry nearly the baggage of, say, the N-word. (See below) Click here to read more in the Washington Post.

Who You Calling N***,  Paula Deen

The fallout from Paula Deen’s use the N-word has been swift, despite her bizarre, apologetic Today Show appearance. At this writing she’s lost 12 business deals so far, including with Wal-Mart, not known for its political sensitivity. Does she deserve it?

Her fans don’t think so. Here’s a typical comment from her Facebook page, sandwiched between praise for a recipe for Never Fail Pound Cake: “We love you Paula! I say start your own food channel!!!! Your [sic] the Oprah of Food! You can make anything happen!”

Many question why it’s okay for black people, especially rappers, to use the N-word, while Paula Deen gets her guts ripped out when she says it. Like this person:

“All you complaining to Paula for what she says behind close doors GET A LIFE!!!! My children did not learn the N WORD from Paula but from 2 African American kids referring to themselves to it in the park! Clean up you’re own house before pitching on others!#!”

Anyone who doesn’t know the difference between rappers and kids saying “nigga” and Deen calling blacks the N-word needs some schooling. Sign up for a history class–ASAP.

Clearly, we have more work to do.

Barack Obama- The 2011 State of the Union Address

January 27, 2011 Leave a comment

President Obama speaks about moving forward to create jobs,
out-compete in the global economy by investing in innovation and education, and win the future for our children and our country.