Archive for Voting Rights Act

The Economics of Race in America

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Guest Columnists with tags , , , , , , , on August 5, 2013 by Gary Johnson

William Reed

By William Reed

If we talk about what ails us that will make it better. When will Black Americans stop getting short shrift? Here lately the Supreme Court’s invalidation of valuable parts of the Voting Rights Act, to which  Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) called “a central pillar of the civil rights laws that helped bring America’s ideals closer to reality for all” … and “feared the ruling would jeopardize the rights of racial minorities.”

“Black life is valued less than White life” and has become a familiar activist chant. From the very beginning, there was no more powerful theme in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin than the issue of race. Now, the national conversation is about “race in America.”  What we really need across America is “a conversation on race” that helps Blacks to rearrange some priorities.

As President Barack Obama said after the Zimmerman verdict “we should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our communities. What Americans need are a series of race dialogues toward garnering ongoing commitments to combat prejudice and strengthening understanding among all.”

Republican Sen. John McCain should be recognized as an ally saying America has “a long way to go” before racial disparities end. The senior senator from Arizona said that Obama’s impromptu speech about being a Black in America, “…proved there needs to be more conversation about the issue of race. We cannot become complacent when we still have a dramatic disparity in Black youth unemployment,” said McCain.

It wouldn’t be as ironic as some Blacks think that Republicans follow McCain’s lead to bring about a conversation on race in America. Race and racism are the most challenging issues confronting America.  Yet, polite society refuses to discuss it. Racial inequality in the United State underlies a wide range of societal issues that affect different groups disproportionately. The total wealth gap between White and African-American families increased from $85,000 in 1984 to $236,500 in 2009.  The biggest drivers of the racial wealth gap are: years of home ownership; household income; employment; inheritance; financial support from families or friends; and pre-existing family wealth. Whites have 22 times more wealth than Blacks.

The story of race in America has been at the center of some of our greatest national traumas, as well as serving as the yardstick by which progress toward a more equal and fair society is measured. It’s apparent both from the varied reactions to Obama’s presidency and events beyond it, that race still serves as a critical stumbling block in American society.

Times of challenge provide the opportunity to create change.  There has never been a better time to re-examine and correct racial inequalities in American society. Instead of allowing the taboo on the subject to continue, the nation needs to start an honest discussion about race. We all need to pay more attention to the growing wealth inequality and expanding racial wealth. There needs to be some systematic, organizational commitment to making policy that helps Blacks to gain grants, and investment in our communities and businesses.  Let no one tell you “all is equal” with demonstrated disparities in health care, education, housing and criminal justice continuing.

Don’t let the “talking heads” that regularly represent the country’s wealth interest to have you believe “all things are equal.” White Americans have continued to enjoy material advantages based on past racially exclusionary practices and current institutionalized discrimination. However, this long history of racism has created social costs in terms of social instability and loss of economic productivity. African Americans bear costs of low self-esteem, high unemployment, low socioeconomic status, and limited opportunities.

As we march from one unemployment line to another, don’t let American politicians and media weasel out on this one. A dialogue on the role race currently plays in the economy from the workplace to the criminal justice system is needed. Politicians should be encouraged to expedite a series of conversations on race across the country.

William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via the BaileyGroup.org

Clarence Thomas Casts Lone Vote Against Voting Rights Act

Posted in Black Interests with tags , on June 23, 2009 by Gary Johnson

Clarence Thomas

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

“The extensive pattern of discrimination that led the court to previously uphold Section 5 as enforcing the 15th Amendment [right to vote] no longer exists. Covered jurisdictions are not now engaged in a systematic campaign to deny Black citizens access to the ballot through intimidation and violence.”  So says Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.  If you translate or breakdown Justice Thomas’ quote, he is saying that Black voters no longer need voting protections.

Oh really! Hmmm.

The Supreme Court could have gutted the Voting Rights Act by overturning a provision that is used for enforcement.  However, the remaining justices disagreed with Thomas and  voted to preserve that provision.  The act allows states to apply to a court for an end to Justice Department oversight of the state’s voting rules. The justices said that bailout option must also be available to smaller jurisdictions.

Author and political analyst Earl Ofari Hutchinson has a commentary worth reading with our friends at The Daily Voice.comClick here to check out Mr. Hutchinson’s commentary.

So what do you think?  Is Clarence Thomas trying to establish himself as an independent voter?  Do you think he believes there is no need to protect black voters from intimidation?

No doubt that conditions for black people have improved dramatically over the past 5 decades.  However, it wasn’t that long ago when Jena, Louisiana black students wanted to hang out in the Whites Only section of the school playground and were greeted with nooses hanging from the tree.  Where I come from that’s called INTIMIDATION.

What do you think about Clarence Thomas’ position on the Voting Rights Act

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