The Supreme Court Decisions of the past two days severely narrowing the application of “race” in achieving “diversity” at colleges and universities and the gutting of Section 4 of the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965 mark an intensification of the assault on the unfinished civil rights movement of the 60s under the guise of “race neutral” public policy.
While there is no question that Blacks and other minorities have made significant progress in the past 50 years, conservatives including those who sit on the highest court of the land, choose to ignore the persistent “badges and indicia of slavery,” vestiges of dejure and defacto segregation and current manifestations of structural/institutional racism which impede the progress of millions of Black people and people of color in our society.
Contrary to the wishful thinking of some, we have yet to achieve a “post racial or racist” society. Therefore, “racial remedies” are still urgently needed to completely level the playing field as President Lyndon B. Johnson so eloquently and persuasively argued in his commencement address at Howard University June 4, 1965. They are also needed to prevent the defacto de-enfranchisement and dis-empowerment of Blacks and people of color through contemporary exclusionary schemes like voter identification laws and racial gerrymandering. The concept of color blind or race-neural laws and policy are nothing but a self-serving charade calculated to perpetuate structures of exclusion by another name.
For people of African descent, the Supreme Court’s decisions are part and parcel of a “white backlash” of resentment of the gains of the Civil Rights era, reminiscent of the reactionary assault on the newly won “freedom” of formerly enslaved Africans in the Post-Reconstruction period after the Civil War.
The warning signs are everywhere and the lessons are clear, Blacks and our allies, those who genuinely believe in a “more perfect union” must mount an aggressive counter-offensive to dramatically reassert the need for race-based remedies to achieve equity/parity in this country and a Voting Rights Act that ensures the ability of Black and minority voters to march on ballot boxes promote and protect our just aspirations without obstructions.
If ever there was a time to build a broad-based civil rights/human rights/social justice coalition of progressive forces spanning the rainbow of colors and led by the African-American community, it is now.
In the wake of these utterly reactionary Supreme Court rulings, the historical imperative and the historical legacy of King, Malcolm X, and millions of unnamed movement activists, spanning six decades, call out to all people of good will and fair mind to stem the tide of the reactionary forces that threaten to turn back to the clock on the gains generations of struggle by progressives.