In writing the majority decision that struck down key portions of the Voting Rights Act, Chief Justice Roberts stated, “While any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.” That’s the same uniformed and misguided mindset that the Court has used to strike out against affirmative action, to endorse religious discrimination, and to rule that corporations have the same rights as individuals.
To educate himself, Justice Roberts need only read the recent article by Braden Goyette and Alissa Scheller published by Huffington Post. It’s so concise, so clear that even Roberts and his conservative co-conspirators should be able to understand it. In the article, the authors present 15 charts that clearly demonstrate that the US is far from a post-racial society. In fact, racial discrimination may be more prevalent, if less obvious and less violent, than it was on the day LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act.
To wit, Blacks held just 2.7 percent of the nation’s wealth in 2010 while comprising 13 percent of the population. The racial wealth gap has ballooned from $85,070 in 1984 to $236,500 in 2009. Blacks are three times more likely to be arrested for drug possession than whites, despite the fact that white Americans use drugs more than blacks. Black men receive prison sentences that are 19.5 percent longer than those of white men who commit similar crimes. Blacks seeking jobs are more likely to be turned away based on the sound of their names and the belief that they use drugs.
The discrimination even extends to pre-school where black students are punished more frequently and more harshly for their behavior.
Of course, if you ask people if they are racist, most will vehmently deny that they hold racist views. In fact, they just use different names for their racism. Today’s racists are more passive-aggressive than in the past. They claim not to discriminate against skin color. It’s just that they dislike those who have “values,” religions and cultural traits that are different than their own. They assume that the problems faced by people of color are of their own making; that they just don’t work hard enough (if they work at all), study hard enough or pray hard enough (at least not to the right god or in the right church).
They dwell on anecdotal evidence of the tiny percentage of people of color who abuse welfare, food stamps and other safety net programs while ignoring the vast majority who work long hours and multiple jobs. At the same time, they ignore the disability fraud, welfare fraud and Medicare fraud committed by white people. They call for harsher sentences for drug crimes and petty crimes while applauding the white collar criminals who take advantage of the lax oversight of our regulatory commissions and loopholes in our tax codes. They fume about the dark-skinned illegal immigrants who walk hundreds of miles across deserts in search of a better life while dismissing the 40 percent of largely white illegal immigrants who simply drive or fly across our borders and overstay their visas.
Despite all of this, America is changing. It is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse. And here’s the really bad news for racists. Our electorate is changing. In a few decades, voters of color will outnumber white voters. If whites don’t change their racist views and embrace diversity (I’m looking at you, Teapublicans), payback could be a bitch.