In preparation for this submission, I pulled my fancy Oxford Illustrated American Dictionary from its honored shelf position next to the Gould Medical Dictionary. I went to the ‘S’ section of the Oxford for a definition of ‘slave’. The first and most applicable being, “a person who is the legal property of another or others.” That’s good enough for what follows.
Black voters gave Barack Obama 93% of their votes in 2012. And the Oxford Dictionary just told you why.
Ironically, a Republican, was probably the most heroic white figure ever in the relentless attempt of decent people to give everybody access to an equal share of the American dream. Abe Lincoln paid for his Emancipation Proclamation issued mid-way through the Civil War, with his life. Pro-slavery adherent and confederate supporter, John Wilkes Booth shot the President in the head at the Ford Theater, April 4th 1865 as the war was ending its 4-year run. The country paid dearly as well with more than 600,000 American lives lost in a war still being insidiously fought today.
Lincoln would have felt great pride in knowing that the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery was officially adopted in December of the same year of his death by Derringer and delusion. A couple of other Amendments worth mentioning in context were the 14th and 15th. The former, ratified in 1868 overrode the Supreme Court’s dreadful Dred Scott decision denying citizenship to black people while the 15th Amendment adopted in 1870 gave African-American males the right to vote, though the South effectively skirted those rights for nearly 100 years.
I’m going to skip the tortured history of the deconstruction of reconstruction, with just one fact that defines the period. There was an Alabama law that an attempted rape by a black man was a capital offense; not so for white males. This is one of many examples of the ‘Black codes’ – legislation passed by Southern states in 1865 limiting work, travel and other rights of newly-freed slaves.
Now to the business at hand; modern-day slavery camouflaged as grotesque unemployment numbers in the black community, economic status, voter-ID laws and anti-affirmative action. We’ll limit ourselves to these prime issues, but the overall list is long, highly restrictive and immoral. Let’s start with the popular economic topic du jour, unemployment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics October, 2012 unemployment rate for white men, age 20 and over is listed as 6.6%. For women in the same age demographic the rate is even lower; 6.3%. The unemployment percentage for African American males over 20 is 14.1%, for black women, 12.4%. The rate for black teens, 16-19 is a staggering 40.5%, twice as high as for their white counterparts.
Most employers are white. These employers prefer, if I may be inelegant here, “their own kind.” All things being equal with two prospective hires, one white, one black; both with a Master’s degree, well-dressed and articulate, for the most part the white applicant gets the job. You cannot talk with a single black adult male or female who have ever sought employment who will not tell you that they feel race has factored into hiring decisions. Not one! Are Republicans more likely to hire whites over black? Does a bear shit in the woods? Yes, there are holdover Deep South aging Dixiecrats who could easily be included in the right-wing segregationist segment, but for the most part, Republicans still haven’t heard the “all men (and women and races) are created equal” message.
The impact of joblessness leads us to the economic status of blacks vs. whites. Home ownership is a good gauge of economic health. About 75% of whites own their own homes, around 46% of blacks and the housing bubble ate into that number considerably more for blacks than whites. Census Bureau statistics point up another wide disparity between white and black wage earners. The per capita income of whites in 2011 was $29,401. Blacks workers took home $11,000 less at $18,357. That’s racism with a capital ‘R’.
Voter-ID bills? A total of 33 states have variations of same. Don’t get me started on the incredibly undemocratic (in every sense of that word) 8-hour lines in Scott’s Fascist Florida. Then there are the excesses of right-wing, totally superfluous, Voter-ID red state legislation aimed specifically at limiting black voter participation; the intentional shortage of voting machines in black precincts and gerrymandered redistricting, again aimed at weakening the black influence at the polls. Let’s add the pure bullshit and misleading emails and robocalls to black households designed to keep African American voters at home. There is an infinite list of skullduggery by Republicans that is an embarrassment to real Americans across the country. All of the Republican strategies thus mentioned are pure racism. Gee! Why don’t blacks like us?
Let’s close with the question of affirmative action, most often identified as a governmental response to the discrimination spelled out in my previous paragraphs. It’s especially vital in assigning racial preferences in hiring and higher education. Let’s back up to 1996 when elected Republican operatives on the national and state level vehemently attacked the issue according to a story in the September 18th edition of the Washington Post that year. Conservative Republicans went after affirmative action statutes in a couple of dozen states. Carrying the water for Congressional racists was ancient warrior and Presidential aspirant, Bob Dole, as he prepared to introduce legislation eliminating federal affirmative action programs.
Apparently, much to Dole and colleagues clueless shock and surprise, normal people of good will told the purveyors of these racist initiatives to pound sand. Non-racists spoke loudest in the Presidential race when a few months later Bill Clinton routed Dole with a plurality of well over 8 million votes and an Electoral College beat down of 379-159. Ross Perot was also in that race. The 2008 Republican Presidential candidate, John McCain answered “Yes, I do” when asked on ABC’s ‘This Week’ during the campaign if he would support an effort to get a referendum on the Arizona ballot doing away with affirmative action. McCain lost by 9 ½ million votes.
But what has the current crop of TeaPublicans learned from the experiences of ’96 and ’08 and, yes, 2012? Precious little I fear. I’ve not heard of a single major state legislative affirmative action push on any meaningful level from the Tea Party or the state legislatures they dominate. In this most recent General Election, Cave-dwelling Oklahomans, as backward a voting bloc as exist in the nation, eagerly supported state question 759, a constitutional ban on affirmative action in state employment, education and contracting.
93%? The other 7% who voted Republican must have been locked up in basements with no outside contacts and only let out on Election Day.