VOTER SUPPRESSION

How to Make Sure Your Vote Counts This November in Texas – Texas Monthly
Remember to Vote! Picture Credentials: Texas Monthly

In 1965, the Voting Rights Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. This act was created to overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that ensured that minorities, primarily African Americans, would be unable to exercise their right to vote which was given to them through the 15th Amendment. The 15th Amendment states:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Amendment XV

This amendment, which was ratified in 1870, prevented states from denying a male citizen the right to vote based on “race, color or previous condition of servitude.” Nevertheless, state legislators sought loopholes and used various discriminatory practices to prevent African Americans from exercising their right to vote. Some examples of these practices are literacy tests, poll taxes, grandfather clauses (laws that made men eligible to vote if their ‘grandfather’ had been able to vote before African-Americans were allowed to) or outright lying. Black people attempting to vote would often be met with an election official telling them that they had gotten the wrong day/location/time or that they would need to take a literacy test. Due to oppression and insufficient schooling, black people had a much higher rate of illiteracy compared to white people. So, they were often forced to take literacy tests and if they failed, would be sent away. The Voting Rights Act banned the use of literacy tests, grandfather clauses, and “good character tests.” After the Act had been passed, voter turnout amongst black people significantly jumped. In Mississippi alone, it had jumped from a mere 6% in 1964 to 59% in 1969.

In June 2013, the supreme court altered the section 5 of the Voting Rights Act in a case called Shelby county v. Holder. In a 5-4 ruling, the court decided that the landmark law that required certain states and localities with a history of discrimination against minority voters to get changes cleared by the federal government before they went into effect would be removed. This removal would mean that discriminatory voting policies could not be blocked before they harmed voters. Immediately after the decision, Republican lawmakers in Texas and North Carolina, who were both previously covered by the law, moved to enact new voter ID laws and other restrictions meant to spur voter suppression. These types of discriminatory practices fly under the radar of the federal court because they are not able hear about the local changes, let alone stop them.

Here are some ways that voter suppression has surged since this ruling:

  • Polling Place Closures
    • Between 2012 and 2018, there were 1,688 polling place closures in states that were covered by section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. In the video I embedded below, the New York Times team details the discriminatory practices that Georgia uses to suppress their black voters. In the video, in a predominately black area, a man had to wait 7 hours, 45 minutes, and 13 seconds just to vote. Comparatively, a polling place in a predominately white, suburban area had to wait 20 minutes to vote.
  • Voter ID Laws
    • In every state that were restricted before, Black and Latinx voters were more likely not to have a government issued photo ID, which is why Republicans are pushing for stricter voter ID laws.
  • Proof of Citizenship

LET AMERICA BE AMERICA AGAIN – LANGSTON HUGHES

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine—the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!

THE OTHER AMERICA – MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.

In this speech, Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the two Americas: one America where the milk of prosperity and the honey of opportunity flows through the streets like water in a river; where no one is hungry, no one is oppressed, and everybody’s needs are met, mentally and physically. The other America tragically also exists. In this other America, “millions of work-starved men walk the streets daily in search for jobs that do not exist. In this America, millions of people find themselves living in rat-infested, vermin-filled slums. In this America people are poor by the millions. They find themselves perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.

America is considered the “mixing pot” where people of all cultures live. However, the vast majority of BIPOC live in the “other America.” King specifically describes black people. Black people live in “a ghetto of race, a ghetto of poverty, a ghetto of human misery.” The Civil Rights Movement aims to deal with the division of the Americas, trying to mend America so it can be one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. As of 1967 (when King had said this speech), America had overcome many struggles in the fight for equality: legal segregation (getting rid of Jim Crow laws). But, they are facing their biggest challenge now: genuine equality. Black people and other minorities (specifically Indigenous and Hispanic people) still live in under served/low-income areas because of redlining that had taken place 50+ years ago. At the time of King’s speech, black people had an unemployment rate more than double that of the nation’s unemployment rate. America has made advances in racial justice and racial equality, but it has also taken steps backward.

Thus, we are met with riots to enforce the changes that the people want. Riots do not appear out of thin air, rather they are the result of continued oppression and the language of the unheard. “And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Black poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity… Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.”

A/N: I only took extracts from the speech. I have attached the speech transcript here.

MINORITY HEALTH AND COLORECTAL CANCER

In light of the death of Chadwick Boseman, a black man most famously known for his role in Black Panther and other Marvel movies (may he rest in power), we must realize the racial disparities that occur in colon cancer. Colon cancer is the third-most common cancer in all adults in the USA. Colorectal cancer affects men and women and impacts people of all nationalities and ethnic groups. However, they are not impacted equally.

African Americans

  • 15 to 20% more likely to die from the disease than patients of any other race
  • higher chance of being diagnosed at a later stage and with a higher morality rate
  • recommended to be screened at 45 instead of 50 because of genetic factors (“African Americans with colorectal cancer are more likely to cope with an aggressive subtype fueled by a mutation in the KRAS gene, which drives cancer growth )
  • affected by socioeconomic barriers (low income, difficult to find transportation, lack of health insurance, lack of medical literacy, and access to care)

Asian Americans

  • 52% of Asian American adults between 50-75 have not been screening for colorectal cancer
  • colorectal cancer is the 2nd most common cancer in Asian Americans
  • risk of colorectal cancer increases greatly upon immigration to the United States
  • many Asian Americans are unfamiliar with colorectal cancer as disease rates in native countries are very low

Hispanics/Latinx

  • 47% of Hispanic adults between 50-75 have not been screening for colorectal cancer
  • also affected by socioeconomic barriers
  • cultural barriers (misconceptions about western medicine, language barrier in communicating with medical personnel)
  • talking about disease and death is culturally taboo

American Indians and Alaska Natives

  • fewer than half are current with colorectal cancer screening
  • colorectal cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer and second deadliest cancer in American Indians and Alaska Natives
  • they live in rural and isolated communities so it is hard to find screening
  • higher burden of cancer risk factors
  • socioeconomic barriers (lack of funding for tribal health clinics, high rates of poverty, lack of health insurance, etc. )

SYMPTOMS OF COLON CANCER

  • changes in bowel habits and stomach pain (diarrhea/constipation)
  • unexplained or unintentional weight loss
  • unexplained fatigue
  • anemia
  • cramping pain in the lower stomach
  • rectal bleeding with bright red blood
  • blood in the stool
  • cramps/abdominal pain

Symptoms of colon cancer mimic other GI disorders, so doctors are less likely to screen patients under 50 with these symptoms. If you have access to healthcare and you are experiencing any of these conditions, please see a doctor!

In honor of Chadwick Boseman, please consider donating to organizations like the Colon Cancer Coalition that raises awareness for early colon cancer detection and effective treatment for colon cancer patients.

sources:

https://www.inovanewsroom.org/featured-posts/2020/02/colon-cancer-and-the-black-community/

THE RACIST HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN POLICE

History of police in the US: How policing has evolved since the ...
The evolution of a police officer. Picture creds: Bettman & Anadolu Agency/ Getty

When people say abolish the police or ACAB, it’s necessary to know why exactly they are saying this. You might say, “but not all cops…” However, this is not what they are referring to. Rather, they are referring to the fact that cops uphold a racist and corrupt system that should be changed and abolished in order to create a new one.

The American police originally started as slave patrols and has since evolved into the American police force that we know today. It has set its foundation as racist and broken. It was created to protect white wealth at the expense of Black people, immigrants, and minorities. In the South, after slavery was abolished and slave patrols became uncommon, police took on new forms such as sheriffs who enforced segregation or groups like the KKK. In the North, police were used to control the increasing numbers of immigrant workers and would block labor strikes to suppress poor Americans.

In the 1800s, centralized white, male police departments formed in big cities like Boston, NYC, and Chicago. Springing from these police departments were patrols like Mounted Guards (now the Border Patrol) who maintained minority quotas and prevented illegal crossings. This was due to the increasing fear of labor uprisings and xenophobia. During Jim Crow, the police would enforce laws called “Black Codes” which upheld racism and segregation. The police would suppress protests during the Civil Rights movement, much like what they are doing right now. Black Americans would protest police abuse and racial profiling and would be met with violence–tear gas, high pressure hoses, and attack dogs.

Now, you might be wondering, would abolishing the police actually work? It has before! Several cities like Durham have implemented successful no-cop zones and harm-free zones where communities self-protect. Police abolition is not a new idea. It has been around since the 18th century. Additionally, the USA today spends approximately $100 billion a year on policing and a further $80 billion on incarceration. Defunding the police could result in more focus on education and health.

If you are still on the edge, I have included a story that I found on twitter about the corrupt police system. Adrian Schoolcraft went into the police force because he thought that he, along with the other police, would make the world a better place. So when he realized that some of his colleagues were lying and fudging numbers in order to meet their quotas, he reported them to his higher ups. The higher ups responded by saying that if he didn’t like it, then he could find a different job. Schoolcraft woke up on October 31, 2009 to the NYPD entering his home and forcibly interring him into a mental hospital. After he was discharged, he released the tapes of the conversations he overhead by officers about the faulty arrests, the clear issues in stop and frisk, and the general corruption of the NYPD. The Village Voice published them in their series “The NYPD Tapes.” The good cops are otracised, abused, and kidnapped by the “bad apples.”

https://www.villagevoice.com/2010/05/04/the-nypd-tapes-inside-bed-stuys-81st-precinct/

WHO IS CHRISTIAN COOPER?

Christian Cooper, a black man and an avid bird-watcher, was out birding in the Ramble – a section of Central Park full of winding paths and thick greenery – when he sees a dog off its leash. This goes against the Ramble’s rules, so Christian Cooper started to tell the owner (Amy Cooper) off for having her dog off-leash. He told CNN, “that’s important to us birders because we know that dogs won’t be off-leash at all, and we can go there to see the ground-dwelling birds. People spend a lot of money and time planting in those areas as well. Nothing grows in a dog run for a reason.” After the two continued to quarrel, Christian Cooper started filming Amy Cooper.

In the video, Amy Cooper tells Christian Cooper that she is going to call the police. “I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life,” she says. Then she tells the police, “There’s a man, African American, he has a bicycle helmet. He is recording me and threatening me and my dog.” While she is saying this, her dog appears to be straining and trying to get free while she tries to restrain it.

After the video was posted, Amy Cooper defended herself by saying “I’m not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way.” Also, Christian Cooper accepted her apology saying, “I think her apology is sincere. I’m not sure that in the apology she recognizes that while she may not be or consider herself a racist, that particular act was definitely racist.”

My take: I do not think that she should be forgiven for her act, to be honest. After this event, she has been fired from her job, and she reports that “her entire life is being destroyed right now.” She was in the wrong and Christian Cooper had not been physical and was not demanding. She should have abided by the park’s rules and had her dog on a leash. If the officers had been similar to other officers who had murdered black people because of false accusations by white people, then Christian Cooper would be murdered. She should not be excused from her act just because of a simple mistake. Without the post going viral, would she have not realized her mistake and kept doing them? She took advantage of a toxic and deadly racial stereotype for an ephemeral gain. She knew what she was doing, as she had forewarned Christian Cooper of her intention, just how dangerous the possible outcome of her lie could have been. I’m going to open the floor for others to respond with their take on this event.

Originally published June 7

WHAT IS A BIPOC?

What Does BIPOC Mean? | Acronyms by Dictionary.com

Recently, it has come to my attention that people have been using the acronym BIPOC when referring to POC. The acronym- short for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color – dates back to the early 2010s. This acronym is meant to be more inclusive for the other two letters – B and I – were included in the acronym to account for the erasure of black people with darker skin and Native American people. Additionally, they do not group the two groups together and instead calls for the distinction between them and other people of color. If we were to do that, it would be far more detrimental as it would erase, which is the very nature of genocidal practice.

In addition, when the term POC is thrown around, people fail to include Indigenous people in discussions where race is mentioned. Which is why it’s important to use the term BIPOC as it is more inclusive than the simple POC. “It is lazy to lump us all together as if we all face the same problems,” said Sylvia Obell, a host of the Netflix podcast “Okay, Now Listen.” “When you blend us all together like this, it’s erasure. It allows people to get away with not knowing people of color and our separate set of issues that we all face. It allows people to play it safe and not leave anyone out, and it also allows you to not have to do the work.” By using the term POC, it allows other to think that POC is just one homogenous group and to not acknowledge the diversity between the races. This contributes to the dehumanization of minority groups. Instead of generalizing minority groups by simply attaching the label POC, please refer to each group by using their correct title.

Originally published June 26

WHO IS BREONNA TAYLOR?

Breonna Taylor would be 27 today. She was killed by the police two months ago when officers burst into Taylor’s apartment while she was asleep to conduct a late-night drug investigation using a “no-knock warrant.” Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, was worried that someone was breaking into the apartment, so he shot and wounded an officer. In retaliation, the officers returned fire and shot Taylor at least 8 times in her own home. In addition, the police were AT THE WRONG HOUSE. THE MAN THEY HAD BEEN LOOKING FOR HAD ALREADY BEEN ARRESTED EARLIER THAT DAY. None of the officers were required to wear a body camera at the time (which was later changed by LMPD but not followed through), so there is no video of the crime. Though her mother filed a lawsuit against the Louisville Metro Police Department in late April, none of the officers in her case have been arrested or fired. The three officers involved in her shooting are still on administrative leave. This has to change. Charges must be filed immediately. Arrests of the officers involved: JOHN MATTINGLY, BRETT HANKISON, AND MYLES COSGROVE must be made now. Additionally, the “no-knock warrant” that the police had used violates the constitutional rights to reasonable search and seizure. By law, police must be legally obligated to announce themselves before breaking and entering into a home privately owned by American civilians. Taylor, and all of the other innocent victims who had been killed by the police, had a long life to live. She was an EMT and was described as “full of life” and “a best friend to so many.” During the pandemic, she worked at two hospitals as an essential worker.

Please sign this petition so that Breonna Taylor can get the justice she deserves.

UPDATE:

As of June 23, 2020, one of the cops that was involved in the shooting of Breonna Taylor was fired. In the termination letter, Chief Robert Schroeder accused the former officer, Brett Hankison, of violating its policy on the use of deadly force, saying that he {Hankinson} “wantonly and blindly” fired 10 shots into Ms. Taylor’s apartment on March 13.

While this is great news, we cannot be satisfied with only one officer being fired. Firing Hankison is not enough, and we shall not take the bait and stay satisfied with simply one arrest when it should have happened months before. Most likely, Hankison will still be able to walk freely and retire comfortably. This should not be the outcome for a murderer. The other two officers, Myles Cosgrove and John Mattingly, have been placed on “administrative leave.”

To ensure that the other two officers also get fired, and all three to get arrested and charged for what they have done, MAKE CALLS AND SEND EMAILS. Here are some contact numbers:

NEW: NOW Special Prosecutor State AG Daniel Cameron (Contact again)502-696-5300Contact Formattorney.general@ag.ky.gov
Mayor Greg Fischer(502) 574-2003Greg.Fischer@louisvilleky.gov
Commonwealth’s Atty Thomas WineJCooke@louisvilleprosecutor.com
LMPD Chief Steve Conrad(502) 574-7660
Kentucky Gov. Andy Breshear(502) 564-2611
NEW: Police Public Integrity Unit(502) 574-2136
NEW: Louisville Metro Council(502) 574-3902
NEW: Additional City Gov’t Contactshttps://www.lfpl.org/how-to/pdf/How-to-reach-elected-officials.pdf

Some things that you should cover when you are speaking and/or writing to the officials are:

  1. Demand the Mayor and City Council address the use of force by LMPD.
  2. Fire and revoke the pensions of the officers that murdered Breonna. Arrest, charge, and convict them for this crime.Provide all necessary information to a local, independent civilian community police accountability council #CPAC.
  3. Create policy for transparent investigation process due to law enforcement misconduct. 

Originally published June 5/26

WHY ARE THE PROTESTS HAPPENING?

On May 25th, a white Minneapolis policeman named Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for approximately nine minutes while George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was handcuffed face down. Despite Floyd repeatedly saying that he couldn’t breathe, Chauvin refused to remove his knee from Floyd’s neck. The other policemen involved in the scene were Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane. The other officers further restrained Floyd and one prevented onlookers from intervening. Despite the fact that during the final three minutes Floyd was motionless and had no pulse, the policemen made no efforts to revive him, and Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck even as arriving emergency medical technicians attempted to treat him. This ordeal arose because Floyd had been suspected of passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a market.

The next day, after videos of this event circulated the internet, the four officers were fired. On May 29th, Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. However, at this point, the other police officers had not been charged. On June 3rd, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison amended Chauvin’s charges to include second-degree murder along with the other officers.

Protests have ensued across the country, in all 50 states, to protest against police brutality. This event isn’t unheard of in the USA. Throughout history, countless people have been murdered as a result of police brutality and ‘accidents.’ However, the policemen involved in the murders are not always held accountable. This is evidenced by Tamir Rice and his killer, who still is free while Rice is dead. If you are reading please take a look at the list of names of people that have died under the hands of a policeman. On the list is 343 names. 343 innocent people. Also, if you are able to, please donate to George Floyd’s memorial fund.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is list-of-names-576x1024.jpg

originally posted June 4