After the Trayvon Martin murder trial verdict, my formerly nebulous beliefs regarding the state of race relations in America crystallized into an unfortunate accedence to the notion that the country is not necessarily moving forward with respect to affording African-Americans justice and freedom in all sectors of society. And now it seems that this perception has been reaffirmed as a result of a very telling and compelling article regarding a Voter ID bill signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory. In his important piece about this topic, Luke Johnson enumerates all the ugliness this legislation will entail in what I perceive to be an effectively ominous manner which indicts the Governor’s decision as an epistemological backflip. (As Johnson notes, the bill reduces early voting by a week, eradicates same-day registration, eliminates pre-registration for 16-and-17 years old, ends an annual state-sponsored voter registration drive, and more.) Ultimately, McCrory’s bill will reify the racism witnessed in the country during the post-Reconstruction and Jim Crow South era in which discriminatory practices like grandfather clauses, literacy tests, poll taxes, and terrorism unveiled the indigenously white supremacist ideologies and praxis the country chose to put in perpetuity. This is to say nothing of how the bill can and likely will work to discriminate against students and the elderly.
As always, America is a profoundly peculiar-and perpetually disappointing-place to live. Johnson, whether intentionally or inadvertently, drew attention to this fact when he noted that McCrory’s Jim Crow-esque measure came shortly after the Supreme Court struck down a central component of the Voting Rights Act. That component-which made it mandatory for Southern states with a history of racial discrimination to clear their laws with the Department of Justice-seemed to challenge the South’s proclivity for enacting legislation that would limit the rights and freedom of African-Americans. Interestingly, the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down this anti-discriminatory measure against blacks came around the same time the judicial body determined to delegalize DOMA, a law which engendered unabashed and ostensibly unrepentant discrimination against homosexual couples. In juxtaposing the Supreme Court’s decisions with respect to DOMA and the Voting Rights Act, it almost seems as if the body would suggest that some forms of discrimination are more permissible than others. But perhaps the fact that the Voting Rights Act reversal narrowly passed proves that this isn’t the case.
Although I found the recidivism and racism indigenous to Republican McCrory’s passing of the Voter ID bill off-putting and odious, his ridiculous rhetoric about it may have given me more pause than the legislation itself. In discussing why the bill was necessary despite the fact that there are few reported cases of voter fraud, McCrory noted that “Even if the instances of misidentified people casting votes are low, that shouldn’t prevent us from putting this non-burdensome safeguard in place.” He went on to further his defense for signing the Voter ID/election reform bill by noting that ”Just because you haven’t been robbed doesn’t mean you shouldn’t lock your doors at night or when you’re away from home.” It’s very clear who’s being robbed here, and it’s not McCrory or his predominantly white conservative voting base.