Voter Restriction Laws Will Impact More Than Just Black People

Davey-D-yellow-225-frameJust peeping the news this morning about the House not even debating the Immigration Reform Bill.. Granted , many of us know the bill itself is kinda weak, but that’s not why the House won’t debate it.. They wont debate because politically they know there can and will be no consequence..

Its pretty certain that most folks who are impacted by immigration reform, which is more than just Latinos are not gonna vote for the GOP folks who wanna shut this down.. However, because of redistricting and now the ability to enact crazy Voter Restriction Laws, thanks to the SCOTUS decision, many sitting in the house know they have nothing to fear at the polls..

This brings me to my next point, yes we all know the story of courageous Black folks marching to Selma in 1965 to get Voting Restrictions removed and in doing so, they were brutally beaten and sprayed with water hoses. This has led to the face of voting rights being a Black one.. The cold reality is at the end of the day Restrictive voting laws will not simply be used against Black people…

Wars of suppression have been waged against all sorts of folks ranging from students to union members to Muslims to other People of Color etc..There is no doubt that restrictive voting laws will be put in place to make it difficult for specific populations to get to the polls or get registered.

Do not think for one second, that folks are not sitting in backrooms redrawing voting maps and crafting news laws to hinder voting attempts for college students who are set to see their loan rates double…One law that was struck down and likely to be resurrected will force students to go back to their home towns versus voting in the student communities they reside..

It was already tested in think Tanks and realized that many students Black, white etc, have challenges with getting all the government issued IDs that they will require for voting.. The hope and anticipation is many will simply stay home..

There will be more than a million people in the streets of San Francisco at the Pride parade. Folks in power see such large numbers as a potential political windfall or a potential threat to political power. To those in the LGBT community don’t get too comfortable in thinking that those upset about the recent Supreme Court decision who are sitting in seats of power are not looking at ways to suppress votes where they find large gay and lesbian populations..Dont think they dont fear political payback from you because of the insidious ways they opposed you..

Voter suppressionThe focus has been on national elections but as you can see from the drama that unfolded and will continue to unfold in places like Texas, the political action is stateside and locally.. For example, Texas state senator Wendy Davis the women who filibustered SB5 in Texas is targeted for redistricting.. In short they gonna remove her seat. And now Texas is putting in place one of the strictest Voter ID laws in the country.. Any state with a majority minority pop can expect to see similar patterns play out..

Bottom line is everyone needs to be involved in pushing back.. Whether you live in places like Michigan where they have crazy governors assigning mostly Black and Brown cities to be run by ‘business managers’ to liberal enclaves like Austin, Tx where they have carved up neighborhoods to people living next door to each other are in separate legislative districts that are based 500 miles to states like Florida that has made it a felony for third parties to register people.. everyone is impacted..

One of the first things people should do, is no matter what, get the proper IDs.. There is more than a year before mid-term elections.. no matter what get that ID if for any reason just to smash back and upend these think tank plans.. Folks who are doing GOTV work need to do more than just register folks.. It needs to be a priority to make sure folks got their documents and funds to get them..That should be a fight while others work to change the laws

To those who are going on tours or who make the rounds speaking at college campuses, churches etc, you should insist that at every speaking engagement, there is a voter registration and ID table..I’ve gotten commitments from several artists who will make sure this happens when they play.. but others need to join that effort..

vote No to Voting-signWatch out for well-funded disinformation campaigns including some that will say if you owe money, child support etc, you are not allowed to register or vote.. Look out for campaigns telling you Not to vote because it doesn’t matter and electoral politics is a farce….It’ll be slickly packaged as being anti-authority. Some of will manifest itself in the form of ‘whisper campaigns’. Some of it will come in the form selected spokes people who suddenly have media access  burst on the scene and start telling you none of this matters.. A good look at the documentary Merchants of Cool can spell out how these types of techniques and other stealth marketing techniques are effectively used.

And ‘yes’, there are some folks will say this who are sincere and have genuine political rationale.. But right now you will see more of that from folks who are being paid to keep you from going to the polls.. Check the track records and see what work and results of that work from people telling you to stay home.. Weigh those findings with what you feel you can achieved by voting someone who you believe in into office or a proposition that can put in place or strike down a law..

We saw this during the Healthcare debates when executives, actors and stand ins were pretending to be grassroots organizers were going to townhall to townhall disrupting it and saying no to HCR.. Initially people thought it was the average Joe, later it was discovered to be paid plants..Just know that will be happening to keep you away from the polls.

Voter Suppression will not be limited to Black folks from this day forward, so hopefully folks from other groups keep this fight top of mind….

-Davey D-

Open Letter to the Hip-Hop Community: What do you think of the #NewRules to Voting Rights?

This is a editorial that was written by Marvin Bing the Northwest Regional Director of the NAACP in response to the Voting Rights Act. He asked me to pass it on.-Jasiri X-

Open Letter to the Hip-Hop Community: What do you think of the #NewRules to Voting Rights?

vote-rights500The Voting Rights Act, first signed into law in 1965, was a keystone victory of the civil rights movement. African-American citizens withstood beatings, fire hoses and dogs to see the law passed. Some even gave their lives.

And for decades since, the law has protected the right to vote for millions of America’s citizens — regardless of faith, color or creed.

Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court strikes down the power to enforce this important law. This is more than a disappointment—it’s an injustice.

The Hip-Hop community has an obligation to respond to this. Hip-hop was born out of the struggle against inequality, poverty, violence and discrimination. It is a genre that reflects those inequalities in order to overcome them and change them.

Millions of young people listen and act based off what artists, DJs, bloggers and On-Air personalities say. You have the power to help them retain their rights to vote and to fight for the millions of people who will lose the right to vote.

Last year, right-wing law-makers made a dramatic effort to limit voting access. They tried passing restrictive voter ID laws, cutting back early-voting hours, and eliminating same-day voter registration. Citizens with every right to vote were turned away from the polls after waiting hours in line to vote.

The Voting Rights Act was invoked to stop these attacks on the right of the people to vote in 2012. Without it, everything would be different today.

Our nation should be expanding voting access, not restricting it. The decision handed down by the Supreme Court today means that it is now up to us, the people, the hip-hop community, to protect our right to vote.

Tell your audience you’re pissed off about this decision. Talk about how important voting is and how the threat of voter discrimination is very real. Send email blasts, make a PSA, light up social media, and make on-air announcements.

You can start by getting people to Washington, DC for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. In 1965, Dr. King and civil rights leaders led 300,000 to March on Washington, and this historic event is part of the reason the Voting Rights Acts passed 50 years ago. On Saturday, August 24, 2013, the NAACP and other civil rights groups can recreate the momentum with your help.

And we need more than marches. We need to be in our communities educating, registering, engaging, and building our people up with the tools and knowledge they need.

Where’s your hustle, are you up for the challenge? The time is always right to do what’s right. Our young people look to you for leadership beyond lyrics.

Marvin Bing is the Northeast Regional Director of the National NAACP. You can follow him on twitter and Instagram @MarvinBing


Editorial: Understanding the Secessionist Movement

Earlier this week, I republished an article on secession and made raised the question as to whether or not Black and Brown folks should also consider secession. I pointed out that we have a history of wanting to detach ourselves from a country that has systemically oppressed us.. you can read that article HERE

My good friend Kali Akuno of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement pointed out that its important we not confuse the fights waged by people of color for self determination and liberation with the fight waged by racists and xenophobic types who types who want to secede because they want to get away from people of color or remain in position whee they can colonize or enslave.. Below is an article penned by Kali which originally appeared in the Praxis Project website…

-Davey D-

Understanding the Secessionist Movement

Since the reelection of President Barack Obama, United States “citizens” from over 30 states have filed petitions to formally secede from the Union, and more than 10 have reached the signature requirements that necessitate a response from the Federal government.

While the secessionist movement is not a new social phenomenon, in fact many of its modern roots go back to passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, its present mass resurgence should be something that gives pause to progressive forces. Not because the secessionist movement will likely succeed (at least in short-term), but because it is a reflection of deep white reaction to various demographic and political transformations in the United States empire that will have multiple expressions, many of them likely to be rather deadly. When we put the secessionist movement in the broader context of the ideology and historic social system of white supremacy then we see that is much more than just a fringe movement.

As Obama’s reelection in part demonstrated, the 500 + year nexus between the systems of capitalism, imperialism, and white supremacy is fracturing beyond repair. There are now ruling class elements and a broad social base in the United States that are willing to jettison many of the social manifestations of white supremacy in order to preserve the capitalist-imperialist world system and the material benefits they reap from it. The secessionist movement reflects in part the interests of the forces of white supremacy who are materially dependent on the old-systems of production that require the unity of this historic nexus for their material well-being or are socially and ideologically committed to its perpetuation.

For much of the 20th century the far right forces of white supremacy were generally satisfied with the post-Reconstruction reinterpretation of the “states rights” doctrine, which was the result of a set of compromises established at the founding of the United Sates empire between the states that wanted to expand chattel slavery and those that were transitioning to a fully articulated system of wage labor. This reinterpretation rested on the notion that the Southern ruling class interests could continue subjugating the colonized (New) African and Indigenous nations contained in the region for the purposes of having a super-cheap labor force to exploit so long as they accepted the hegemony of the Federal government, which was rooted primarily in the controlling hands of monopoly industrial and finance capitalists based along the Northeastern seaboard. This reinterpretation contained secessionist aspirations for nearly a century, but it never completely vanquished them. The Black Liberation movement of the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s weakened the post-Reconstruction “states rights” compromise, and breathed new life into the secessionist movement.

Playing up “states rights” as code for the perpetuation of white supremacy was at the heart of the “Southern Strategy” developed by the Nixon regime to defeat the “New Deal” alliance of the Democratic Party that was forged in the 1930’s and 40’s (the alliance that gave birth to the political ideologies and social forces now breaking with white supremacy). The reactionary “Southern Strategy” worked brilliantly until the 1990’s, when it was appropriated by elements of the Democratic Party (particularly the Democratic Leadership Council) to regain political legitimacy and power. This appropriation heightened contradictions amongst the forces of white supremacy, which in turn have opened space for more far right movements like the secessionist movement, to operate and compete within for ideological hegemony.  For these far right forces the reelection of a Black man to conduct the affairs of the White House over what was supposed to be a white man’s country is just too much to bear. In this context, secession is not so much fringe, but in fact is rather logical.

It may also turn out to be brilliant strategy. The “right to secede” is a democratic right and one technically enshrined in the United States constitution. If this right is denied without sufficient political struggle to clarify the issues, particularly by a Black man who is deemed and demonized as a dictator due to his different interpretation of the Constitution and management of the capitalist-imperialist system, it can and will become a rallying cry for the far right that could potentially mobilize millions of white settlers, particularly as there are strong preexisting settler narratives to support and justify their cause (from “don’t tread on me” to “no taxation without representation”), and give life to the civil strife, if not all out war, that many Republican and Tea Party commentators spoke to leading up to the November 6th elections.

So, this movement is something that progressive forces should pay attention to and think strategically about. And not because progressive forces should be aiming to preserve the political or structural integrity of the United States as it is presently constituted. We have to remember that there is nothing sacred or sacrosanct about the present borders of the settler states that comprise the so-called Union. This government and these borders have not always existed, are not inherently legitimate, and definitely have not served the interests of Indigenous, African, Xicano, Puerto Rican, and other colonized and oppressed peoples who live on the Great Turtle island (one of the Indigenous names of the North America continent). Rather, our primary interest should be protecting our people, exploring solutions that will advance our total liberation, and combating the repression these reactionary forces are and will direct against us. As the contradictions of this imperial society become more acute, we need to be as aware and prepared as possible to address them with sufficient organization in the pursuit of our own interests – least we be caught unaware and used as pawns once again to preserve the “white man’s systems”.

written by Kali Akuno