Voting Is Under Attack

Your right to vote is in unprecedented peril. That is how many voting rights experts feel about the legal treachery to remove the sacred right from the most vulnerable among us. The bills will inhibit or reduce opportunities to vote across the nation. Just voting will be more restrictive for those without identification or who must rush to the polling stations because they had to work. The long list of efforts to keep people of color, the elderly, and the poor from voting has never been seen before ever in the history of the United States. Why? Because Republicans cannot win national elections and will struggle to hang on to southern states as populations of people of color grows and white flight increases. Since the GOP has no intentions of supporting an agenda that appeals to voting blocs outside their normal supporters, they will try to tilt the system in their favor. Tilt is another word for discriminate and unfairly influence the most sacred of constitutional rights where everyone is supposed to be equal.

Republicans did the math and their grip on power will only shrink as the nation becomes darker and younger. They refuse to change and have only made it harder for groups that do not support them to vote. As of May 2021, 14 states enacted 22 laws that restrict voting access and are on track to pass more than the last time (2011) republicans suppressed voter rights. That was in direct response to the huge turnout against President Donald J. Trump who made no secret of his feelings about people of color. With the demographics working against republican policies and population numbers they have chosen to simply stop people from voting. They want you to not vote.

To stop anyone from voting is as un-American as one can get and is a direct threat on democracy. The reason for caring is true as ever: people died so that you could vote. There is not a molecule of difference between the GOP passing restrictive voting laws and the Jim Crow laws in the south after the Civil War. It’s the same racist motivation and the same insane desire for power. For the moment, the constitution is safe.

Laws written during the Jim Crow era are sickeningly similar in their motivation and delivery.  There was a poll tax, which was a fee to even vote. While current laws are not quite so obscene, the added expense of having to take off work, and long commutes to the polls are not cheap for those trying to make ends meet. White primaries were in vogue during reconstruction and today’s gerrymandering has the same effect. Literacy tests enacted over 100 years ago are no better than today’s photo ID requirements. Requiring some subjective measurement left up to partisan poll officials are eerily the same.  White voters were spared these rules at the polling sites or just not asked to comply. The first case of a bill grandfathering a law allowing preferential treatment for whites. Accordingly laws were subjectively applied here but remained intact for people of color. They claimed then as they do now the laws were not racist.

These racist laws did not explicitly state that blacks or any other race could not vote. Instead, the laws set up arduous barriers and challenges for black citizens to overcome to vote. And if all that does not work, state election boards will simply purge thousands of black and brown voters. The high courts give a lot of latitude to states to manage elections and republicans have bordered on illegal means to stop black voters.

President Joe Biden supported S. 1, the For the People Act and the Equality Act, both voted down by Oklahoma Senators Jim Inhofe and James Lankford. It is a world gone mad when the majority of republicans believe the election was stolen and there was widespread fraud. Trump’s last desperate act to stay in power was the insurrection on January 6th when his supporters attacked the Capitol in a thuggish attempt to overturn the election. Still think your vote does not count?

As of May, 22 laws were enacted. There were 389 laws introduced. There was time to pass more. These are mainly in republican states and governors frightened by Trump have signed every one of them. Not only are reckless and discriminatory bills written they are signed by governors who have not the spine to stand up to Trump. Voting is in peril.

The Oklahoma Eagle will continue to speak about the need to vote, how to vote, and ways to safeguard your right to vote. Are you equal to the task?

Juneteenth Was A Success As Greenwood Garners Attention

Juneteenth became a National Holiday with speed and lack of acrimony from the usual suspects. While people celebrated the historic day, others are saying it is superficial and does little to cure what ails the state of people of color. True, however that was not the intent. Those other issues need their own period of reflection and attention.

For a brief shining moment Tulsans, like the rest of the country celebrated Juneteenth in a spirit of unity and reconciliation. It also saw a group of Freedom Riders attend Tulsa’s Juneteenth while on their way to push for federal voting rights bills. Tragically, the bills went down in defeat as republicans fearful of an open and free election opposed all attempts to protect the right to vote.

Attention was also shed on Interstate 244 and how it cuts Greenwood in half and there is no exit to this district. Under Biden’s infrastructure bill there are provisions to undo racist investments to starve and harm communities of color. To fix this problem will cost $250 million and it can come out of the yet to be passed infrastructure bill.

While Greenwood was basking in the warm regard of Juneteenth, the Transformation Church true to its name was addressing wrongs. Under the leadership of Mike Todd, he made a divine reparation payment of $200,000 to each of the three race massacre survivors.

The church also gave checks to the Greenwood Cultural Center and the Terence Crutcher Foundation. There is good news.