Sunday, March 28, 2021

How does America feel about voter suppression?

Civil Rights Act of 1964

I was three years old when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was created. People of color and their constituents fought the idea of white dominance and suppression. People of all colors lived and died so that the preamble of the United States Constitution blanketed everyone in spoken word and deed.  We trusted our elected officials to do what we sent them to congress to do.  We thought (perhaps foolishly) that the idea of white supremacy would die down slowly with the implementation of the Civil Rights Act, which is why I find it unfathomable that we are in a similar position now as we were then. We have been fighting this battle now for over fifty years.

The fight is real and the response from whites is just as visceral now as it was then.  We are finding out that the idea of white supremacy did not die as much as it has evolved.  Just like people, our ideals have become something that is ingrained in us.  It forms our core beliefs in who we are as well as what we want to be.  And yet despite all of this, you would think that we changed into a better people.  For many of us, we have and for a small portion of us, we have not and perhaps never will.

Watching Politics

I started paying attention to politics back when Clinton was in office.  I watched the fiasco of the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal unfold before the world stage.  I was a little taken aback about how quickly the primeval instinct of the Republican party’s response would be to his affair, clutching their pearls and quickly taking the moral high ground.  They did this not knowing that twenty years later, the people would elect a morally bankrupt man who would turn America on its ear.

Simultaneously, we had the realization that the country was rapidly becoming black and brown.  This would lead to a clash that would culminate with the election of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States along with a vicious fight for our democracy.

The Republican party has become something that I hardly recognize anymore.  They used to reflect conservative values; and even though I interpreted that belief to be more about being socially conservative as opposed to fiscally conservative, that belief has fallen by the wayside and in its place is something that is starting to look like autocracy instead of democracy. Even as you read this, the Republican party is pushing out 253 pieces of legislation to restrict voter’s rights in 43 states across the country. 

Is America pro or con the idea of voter suppression?

So how does America feel about voter suppression?  That depends on who you ask.  For the average black and brown person, the response is quick.  They stand against it because they will not tolerate something that restricts their right to vote.  For the Americans that support the current Republican party’s endeavors, the silence is deafening because no one wants to admit that they support (whether secretly or not) the idea of restricting the right to cast a ballot especially if those casting said ballot is black or brown.

Most recently, Governor Brian Kemp of the state of Georgia signed into law the following:

“The new law imposes new voter identification requirements for absentee ballots, empowers state officials to take over local elections boards, limits the use of ballot drop boxes and makes it a crime to approach voters in line to give them food and water.” CNN News

 Put another way, the Republicans want the option to severely limit black and brown turnout for fear that they will never win another least not anytime soon. Rather than come up with something legislatively that would win over Americans, Republicans would rather cheat.  They want the option to choose who wins and who loses the next election.  What this means that if their nominee wins, great.  If their nominee does not win, then somehow, the opposing party cheated…something that they are trying to do right now.

This is nothing new from the Republican party, but it is the first time that they decided to embody the merits of Trumpism as opposed to standing on the right side of morality and fairness.

The far left

I have been accused of being part of the far left although to date I have never been linked to any conspiracy theories; at least not yet.

I am not a part of the far left.  I stand firmly on the side of what is right and wrong.  Hopefully, we all know this…white, black, and otherwise.  And yet, we have people that will turn a blind eye to what is wrong in the name of what I believe to be for nothing more than whiteness.

The sins of whiteness

It is some of my white brothers and sisters that have repressed, maimed, killed, incarcerated, raped, and pillaged communities of colors for generations.  It is some of my white brothers and sisters that implemented policies like Jim Crow and when that was abolished, they implemented Mass Incarceration.  It is some of my white brothers and sisters that have subjugated whole races of people into slavery…and we are tired.

White people have fled neighborhoods when people of color moved in…as if somehow, we would inflict some disease on them if they stayed to get to know us. 

I say this as if I need something from white people…and I do.

I want you to be me for a day.

Or even better, look at yourself from the outside in and ask yourself the question, “Am I really living up to the person that I want to be?”  “Do I exemplify what is good, fair and decent as I say I do?”

~ J.L. Whitehead




Saturday, February 20, 2021

What happens to the idea of white supremacy?


For a couple of months, I had peace of mind.  I could turn on the television and not get upset.  I normally reserve my emotions for conversations more personal and with people I know.  And right now, at this very moment, I am highly emotional.  The feelings remind me of when I was in elementary school; floating in a sea of my own anxiety…feeling like I can grasp the lifeboat of sanity only to be hit by a wave and slide under water again.

For a fleeting moment, I had peace. Trump lost the election and on January 20th, 2021, he would be out of office.  We could start anew.  The man that I wanted to win won the election; and I want to believe that the win mattered.  Sadly, my eyes are opening to the fact that there will always be a war in our government.  With Trump’s loss comes his spirit…the spirit that infected our government in a way that I never thought would happen in my lifetime.  And at the heart of all of this is the resurgence of white supremacy.  33% of white people feel as if they are under siege…that their kind is slowly being eroded or eliminated.  They are saying to America that they have the right to stand up for the rights of white people the same way that blacks stand up for the race of their demographic.  They are enraged and believe that 33% of their kind have been left behind at the expense of others.  Or at least, this is their perception.  I want to make a point to some of my readers that may be totally oblivious to others.  33% of America may feel as if they have been left behind…but it is totally lost on them that these are the exact same feelings that people of color have had to live with all their lives.  Simply put, it is okay that black and brown people are left behind economically if this demographic does not include the 33%.

What these same people do not realize is that white supremacy infringes upon the rights of people of color.  It always had.  Our nation’s history is steeped in white supremacy, which I believe is something that people of color remember vividly, and some white people forget conveniently.  33% of this country forget how it was for black and brown people.  They say that that was a long time ago or that they do not feel that way. 

We know that racial disparities exist and are alive and well in this country.  We know that white people deny its existence because to do so would mean that they could continue to enjoy white privilege. 

I used to deny the existence of white privilege saying that as I have gotten older, things have become better for people that look like me.  But the simple truth is that although things have gotten better for me, things have not really gotten that much better for me and my people.  It may look like that for white people; but if they continue to enjoy white privilege at the expense of people of color, then things really are not that much better for all of us.

The good news is that times are changing for the better for people of color.  Opportunities are becoming available that will hopefully level the playing field for all of us.  This is not at the expense of white people because it was something that should have been in place a long time ago.

I bring this up because we still do not have what we need.  We haven’t for quite some time.  We still deal with the disparities that oftentimes relegates us to the back of the proverbial bus.  We look at white people with disbelief as issues of race and all the problems that appear to come with it be of no major concern to 33% white people.  They are not interested in blacks being murdered in our streets because they are not the ones doing the dying.  They are not interested in being incarcerated at our borders because they are not the ones being locked up.

 33% of this countries white Americans supported Trump.  Let that sink in for a moment.  That is one third of every white man and woman that passes you on the street or in the market.  He wound up getting more votes this year despite his dismal performance as president over the past four years.  And why?  They believe that if he says that he was the best president since Lincoln, then it must be the truth even though he has a history of having a loose relationship with honesty.  They believe that he inherited an economy that was in shambles when in fact, he inherited a good economy due to the polices that had been implemented by the Obama Administration.  Not true?  Well, look at what the Obama Administration inherited, and that Mitch McConnell stated to his constituents that he was going to make it his mission to make Obama a one term president.  A lot of what motivates Donald Trump’s supporters is what the former president says.  If he says he won the 2020 election, then he won.  If he says that he is the true patriot and that people that follow him are also true patriots, then they are.  If he lies to them and if those lies mean that he is willingly misleading them, then so be it.

Trump was never a politician.  He is a wealthy opportunist.  He had no interest in governing unless the outcome would ensure that people of color would be hurt.  Whether this was building a useless wall, arresting people of color at the border, and then separating them from their children, giving tax cuts to the wealthiest of Americans or imprisoning people seeking asylum from their countries of unrest.

Trump had no interest in governing, but he was very much interested in the power of the presidency.  You cannot have one without the other.  And this was very much evident in his not wanting to do anything towards the end of his presidency.

I was foolish to think that after Trump’s tenure, the feelings that catapulted him to the Oval Office would subside.  It didn’t.

We see the aftereffects of everything that he has said and done.  We have seen how he wields the power of the white house.  And thankfully, that is over.

But now that we are at the beginning of a new administration, what will become of the feelings that the 33% harbored against people that do not look like them?  Will they still believe in the ideologies that revolve around white supremacy?  Or will they realize that the feelings that came to the surface get pushed back to the recesses of their mind as it becomes clear that those feelings do not have a place in a democratic society?

I don’t know. 

Only time will tell.

~J.L. Whitehead






Friday, January 22, 2021

Instead of looking at our past, we can look to our future


Every time an incident takes place that shakes us to our core, one of the first things that I hear is “This isn’t America!”  At one time, I was foolish enough to believe that this was true.  Whatever took place…whatever shocked us into temporary silence is a direct contradiction of what America truly stands for.

But what we are seeing is that the events that took place on Wednesday, January 6, 2021is as un-American as it gets.  The sad part about this incident is that it is true.  This is America.  As painful as it may be to many of us, this is America.  We are a nation where a third of us believe that they have the inalienable right to dictate to the rest of us that despite who we elect to office that our voice does not matter.  Sadly, they believe that their voice has been silenced and that they have the right to protest and in doing so, destroy and terrorize our elected officials that works in our nation’s capital.

In a post Trump era, Trump has become somewhat of an enigma instead of a president.  He has willingly lost sight of what the role of the presidency means as well as the constitution that he has at one time sworn to uphold.  We have all had window seats to what he has allowed this country to become.  We have become the nation of Trump…like it or not.  We are living in Trump’s America.  He campaigned on fear, hatred and finger pointing, all in the name of patriotism which is partially responsible for the insurrection that we all bore witness to three to four weeks ago.

 The mayhem that took place is a result of a middle class that feels as if they have been forgotten; a race of people that are threatened by the black and browning of this country, an economy that does not work for everyone and a government that habitually pays homage to the rich.  This is what we see on the surface of what 1/3 of this country believes that this is what ails them.  But there is something deeper at work with “white peoples” pain.  The pain comes from the gradual erosion of the middle class.  In certain parts of the country, there are people lining up in food lines…people that never thought that they would have to participate in a food distribution program

Our problem as a nation starts and ends with inequality.  For decades, there has always been a race of people that prospered at the expense of another.  They flourished with the advent of slavery…and yes, you have probably heard where I am going with this, but for you to understand how we got here, we must understand where we came from.

African American and Indigenous people have been killed, maimed, and raped in the name of whiteness.

Once people of color were freed from the bondage of slavery, we subjected to laws that would further repress us as a people.  This came in the forms of Jim Crow laws.  And while the great migrations of people of color from the south to the north in search of better living conditions and job opportunities, once we got here, we were met with repressive housing tactics and further inequality policies.  This led to mass incarcerations where men of color were jailed for minor drug offenses and given no means to join the working society as upstanding, contributing citizens forcing them into recidivism…or rather, having to repeat the same offenses that landed them in jail in the first place.

“We are seeing racially blended families in the media which signals that now, it is okay to simply be as opposed to being worried about who marries who.” …JL Whitehead

War on drugs was not so much a means of making the ghettos better as it was an unspoken war on black men or men of color.  We were skillfully removed from the household of our families leaving our wives and children to fend for themselves.

I say all of this because this brings us to where we are.  We have survived the presidency of a man who did not believe in equality.  We have survived the policies of a man who wrongfully claimed that he did more for African Americans than any other president when in fact, he rode the success of his predecessor in turning the economy around.  He took credit for it while having nothing to do with it.

But now we can do something about it.

We can move forward as fathers, husbands, brothers, uncles, and cousins with pride.  We can hold on to our dignity as we pursue education knowing that the playing field is as close to being even than we have ever seen in decades.

We are seeing racially blended families in the media which signals that now, it is okay to simply be, as opposed to being worried about who marries who.

I have given much thought about this.  In many ways, I became “woke” during the Trump Administration.  Many of us did.

We realized that many of our fellow countrymen valued being white over fairness and equality.  But the truth is that many of our neighbors’ value who we are and will join us as we move forward into a time of hopeful policies that will lessen the burden on us as a people.

Hopefully, we can rise together as a nation that is not splintered in hatred and hypocrisy.  Instead, we can be better by doing better.  We can be a nation that knows what true patriotism is.  True patriotism is loving our nation which is inclusive of everyone and valuing everyone’s contribution to our ideals and principles.  We can lift everyone and rejoice in our nationalities; Germans, Irish, Dutch, African (which contain many divisions of who we are as a people) Italian, Indigenous and Jewish as opposed to one color.

Folks, this can work.  But we must want it to work.  And the road to success is simple…one group must be willing to give up the power that they have enjoyed for decades and be willing to share it so that we all can enjoy the fruits that this land has to offer.

~ J.L. Whitehead

How does America feel about voter suppression?

Civil Rights Act of 1964 I was three years old when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was created. People of color and their constituents fough...