While waiting on SCOTUS to make decisions on Prop 8 and DOMA, I took the time to dive into some of the other cases that they were deciding on this week. Two of which struck me the hardest. The first was the VRA and the second was Fisher vs. The University of Texas (which whhhewwww white America we need to talk) As a black person and otherwise minority (queer, genderqueer, Jew, etc etc) the Supreme Courts decision on the VRA felt a little bit like a punch in the gut.
What is the VRA?
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. §§ 1973–1973aa-6)is a landmark piece of national legislation in the United States that outlawed discriminatory voting practices that had been responsible for the widespread disenfranchisement of African Americans in the U.S.
Echoing the language of the 15th Amendment, the Act prohibits states from imposing any “voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure … to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.”Specifically, Congress intended the Act to outlaw the practice of requiring otherwise qualified voters to pass literacy tests in order to register to vote, a principal means by which Southern states had prevented African Americans from exercising the franchise.The Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had earlier signed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law.
The Act established extensive federal oversight of elections administration, providing that states with a history of discriminatory voting practices (so-called “covered jurisdictions”) could not implement any change affecting voting without first obtaining the approval of the Department of Justice, a process known as preclearance. These enforcement provisions applied to states and political subdivisions (mostly in the South) that had used a “device” to limit voting and in which less than 50 percent of the population was registered to vote in 1964. The Act has been renewed and amended by Congress four times, the most recent being a 25-year extension signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2006.
The Act is widely considered a landmark in civil-rights legislation. – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voting_Rights_Act_of_1965
The VRA made it so that there would be less voter suppression. By striking it down it now becomes easier to suppress certain voters. Ie; minorities, poor people, immigrants, and the elderly. So. Basically a win for all white rich conservatives. THANKS AGAIN GUYS. Texas wasted absolutely NO TIME in using this towards their favor.
The strict photo ID requirement blocked by the DOJ and a federal court would require Texans to show one of a very narrow list of acceptable photo IDs. Expired gun licenses from other states are considered valid, but Social Security cards and student IDs are not. If voters do not have an ID — as many minorities, seniors, and poor people do not — they must travel at their own expense, produce their birth certificate, and in many cases pay a fee to get an ID. http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/06/25/2212281/two-hours-after-the-supreme-court-gutted-the-voting-rights-act-texas-ag-suppresses-minority-voters/
What is Fisher vs. The University of Texas about you may ask?
If the Supreme Court is ruling on it, it’s probably a super important big deal right? Like gay marriage? Yeah you would think. Fisher is Abigail Fisher a white woman (girl?) who was denied entry to The University of Texas, and chose to get fucking heated at Affirmative Action because of her rejection. Remember the college application process you guys? It was all kinds of shits and giggles. You had your eye set on one school, no matter how many others you applied to, there was only one letter that actually mattered to you. And on the day that letter came your emotions were going to go one of two ways. There were either going to be ecstatic happy leaps, or a face plant into your bed. Those were pretty much your only options, because you are a sane human person. Rejection sucks, but it is a fucking part of life. Well Abigail Fisher decided that her rejection was actually worse then your rejection because you see she is white, and her spot no doubt went to some black person just because you know THEY’RE BLACK. So what did little privileged Abigail do? Her and mommy and daddy went to their lawyers and got this fucking shit all the way to SCOTUS. Which like, as parents isn’t this the time you tell your kid to maybe stop being such a brat and accept the fact that not everyone get’s what they want? She had a 3.5 GPA. Which, I am no Dumbledore at math or anything but is .5 points away from a 4.0 which means that well Abi isn’t exactly perfect.
White people like to get good and fucking angry about Affirmative Action, but skate on by when it comes to legacies. You know that system in place in many colleges across the country that gives priority to those who have had families who have gone there in the past? Let us break this down REAL QUICK. Brown vs. The Board of Education happened in 1954. In 1962 the first black student was enrolled in The University of Mississippi. Soooo how many African American kids enrolling in school TODAY exactly can have legacies? Right. But Affirmative Action is unfair. Totally.
Civil rights are something that we (society) have either been fighting for, or against since we could segregate ourselves. My parents grew up in a time when blacks and whites lived in a very different United States. My grandparents lived and fought in a war that tried to rid the world of Jews forever. And now our generation is fighting for the equality of LGBTQ people. And today we moved two steps closer to not being seen as 2nd class citizens.
As a black person, I have always known that America is not fair when it comes to race. Or shall I say, we have not come to a point where racism is no longer an issue. Of course I did not have to go through what my ancestors or even my aunts and uncles growing up in the 50’s and 60’s had to endure and I thank them from the bottom of my heart for fighting so that I could one day not worry about walking into the front door of a restaurant or sitting anywhere in a movie theatre or a bus. It is almost impossible for me to wrap my head around the thought that when my parents were kids they went to segregate schools. My parents are white. They were raised in a time of segregation, grew up, and adopted a black kid, who then in turn turned out to be gay. My grandparents grew up having to hear words like kike, and Jew said with disgust. My grandfathers fought in a war that sought to end their existence. They won. And now they have a grandchild who can just about say the same for gay marriage.
I knew that regardless of my families background the decisions on DOMA and Prop 8 would strike me, I mean how could they not? It is such a hard thing to vocalize. This feeling. I look back on my families history and all I see is a fight. There has not been one generation that hasn’t had to fight for the right to be seen as an equal. It finally seems like new generations will be born in a truly open and accepting world, well at least here in America.
This country is by no means perfect. But we have been moving towards equality since we began. There have always been those trying to stifle the rights of others and there have always been and I am certain will always be those who won’t shut up until they are heard and seen as equals. And today I can say that as a black, Jewish, gender queer, gay individual one less weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. Thank you to everyone who has fought, and thank you to everyone who will continue to make sure equality is not just a slogan on bumper stickers, but an actual practice that all of our children never have to question.
Happy PRIDE everyone.