Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Lynching of Trayvon Martin - Part 3

Apparently, according to Robert Zimmerman, Jr., Trayvon Martin did not die hard enough the first time. Robert Zimmerman is doing everything in his power to assassinate Trayvon Martin's character.  Check out Zimmerman racist tweets below. Clearly, racism runs in the Zimmerman family. Mr. Zimmerman, keep tweeting. It will only help us secure justice for Trayvon Martin.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

It is Time for the Black Community to Learn from the LGBT Community

My view on gay marriage is no secret. Last year, I explained why I do not support same sex marriage. I may write a more comprehensive part 2 to that article. Then again, maybe this will be my last article regarding this topic.

After the President publicly supported same sex marriage around election time, all of the sudden the American sheeple are prepared to discard thousands of years of human history to embrace what is trendy and cool for the moment. I don't care if I'm the last man standing in the blogosphere. I will never, ever support same sex marriage. I'm sure that the thought police will call me "closed minded", "a bigot" or even worst. I'm sure that they will threaten me like they did the last time. Frankly, I don't give a damn. I will not remain silent.

Anyway, that's not even the point of this article. In an interesting piece by Keli Goff on the Root entitled Gay Marriage Coverage: A Media Shut Out?, Ms. Goff raised some interesting questions. She asked:

"Quick question: Who is the latest Democratic senator to come out in support of affirmative action?

OK, another question: Who is the latest Republican senator to come out in support of affirmative action?

How about this one: Do any Republican senators support affirmative action?

Last question: Do you know the answer to any of the above questions?

Chances are you don't. Most of us don't. But I bet you know that Republican Sen. Rob Portman now supports same-sex marriage, spurred by his love and compassion for his openly gay son. I bet you also know that 10 Democratic senators oppose gay marriage.

The reason you know both of these facts is that same-sex marriage has become the mainstream media's civil rights cause célèbre --even though it ultimately affects just under 4 percent of the population. To be clear, this population deserves rights and protections regardless of how few of them there may be, but not at the expense of other groups.

Though I have sensed a disparity in civil rights coverage for months in print, online and on television, I only recently tried multiple online searches to see if I was being paranoid.

I wasn't.

A search of "Affirmative action before the Supreme Court" produced just over 100 million results. (This number came up whether I tried including the year 2013 or used parentheses.) "Voting rights before the Supreme Court" netted more than 400 million results. But "Gay marriage before the Supreme Court" produced article after article after TV clip after TV clip, with just over 800 million results. "Same sex marriage before the Supreme Court" produced even more: just under 900 million results.

I have been baffled by the fact that while the Supreme Court's upcoming rulings on voting rights and affirmative action were relegated to a couple of days of nonintensive media coverage, coverage of the court's upcoming rulings on same-sex marriage has been treated as the second coming of the Brown v. Board of Education case, which literally changed America for all Americans, as opposed to the second coming of Loving v. Virginia, which the gay-marriage case more closely resembles, and which ultimately changed the lives of some Americans: those pursuing interracial relationships."
Ms. Goffi is baffled. I am not. Many Negroes let the media define what is important. The media tells them to support gay marriage. So what do they do? Support gay marriage. Now, my misguided brethren are all up in arms, waving their rainbow flags, tweeting their butts off in support of same sex marriage. Yet, many of those same people do not have a damn thing to say about affirmative action and voting rights. If African Americans do not prioritize affirmative action and voting rights, how can we expect others to do so?!!?

Although I don't support LGBT community's position on same sex marriage, I admire their organizing skills and their commitment to their cause. I just have one question. Why isn't the African American community as organized, as passionate and as successful as the LGBT community?

The LGBT community successfully pressured Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama to publicly support same sex marriage. Through traditional media, social media and public pressure, they transformed American culture. They replaced the phrases "homosexual marriage" and "same sex marriage" with the more palatable phrase "marriage equality". They pushed their opponents into the margins of society by calling them "bigots". On the other hand, they rewarded those who adopted their view by describing them as "evolved". Through such powerful propaganda, they convinced the public to parrot their phraseology and champion their cause.

What was once considered an abnormality is now widely accepted. Like alchemists turning lead into gold, LGBT activists morphed a common sense, moral issue into a "civil rights issue." Despite the fact that same sex marriage is clearly contrary to everything in the Bible, LGBT activists persuaded some prominent African American preachers to appear in political ads supporting same sex marriage in Maryland. Everyday, like grotesque mushrooms sprouting out a lawn, another opportunistic politician miraculously comes out in favor of gay marriage. Activists even recruited my man Yoda from Star Wars to support gay marriage. Yesterday, my Facebook news feed was been bombarded and blanketed with photos like the one used for this article. When I saw that Yoda photo on social media, I thought to myself, "Give me a freaking break." However, I also reflected on the sheer brilliance of their social media campaign. As I write this blog post, the New York Times reports that the Supreme Court is poised to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. In sum, LGBT activists have hustle, and I can't knock it.

People waited in line for days outside in the cold weather in order hear oral arguments for the two same sex marriage cases. When arguments were heard, there was a large crowd outside of the court house. That's dedication. That's commitment. That's a story that cannot be ignored by the corporate media.

On the other hand, I don't see the same level of commitment and organization in the black community. Affirmative action and Section 5 of Voting Rights Act are in jeopardy. Both tools enabled African Americans to advance as people. Affirmative action is a natural extension of the Brown v. the Board of Education legacy. It opened the doors of higher education and helped to increase the size of the black middle class. It helped many black people to become doctors, lawyers, judges, engineers, scientists, teachers, business people and other types of professionals. If it was not for affirmative action, I would not be a lawyer today.

The Voting Rights Act is just as essential. If it was not for the Voting Rights Act, Jim Crow and segregation would still exist. There would be no black mayors, no black city council people, no black U.S. representatives and no black senators. Barack Obama definitely would not be in the White House. Obviously, the Voting Rights Act and affirmative action have a much greater impact on African Americans than same sex marriage.

Yet, we did not wait in line for days to hear arguments in Fisher v. The University of Texas and Shelby County v. Holder. Our young people would rather wait in a line for the new Air Jordans or the latest iPhone than wait in line to hear cases that have a direct impact on their future. It is a damn shame. Where is our sense of urgency? The crowd outside of the court for the Fisher case was not nearly as large as it should have been. I am sure that the crowd for the Shelby case was not as large as the crowds for the Proposition 8 and the DOMA cases. Unfortunately, we have become apathetic and complacent. Many of us believe that we have made it to the Promised Land and that civil rights movement is a relic of the past. Some of us have actually started to believe that America is a "post-racial society".

States around this country are enacting laws designed to suppress black voters. For example, as reported on the Huffington Post,

Civil rights advocates say a new voter ID law signed by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) on Tuesday will creating more hurdles to voting.

“Rather than address the real issues Virginians have faced at the polls on Election Day, such as waiting in line for 6 to 7 hours to vote, the Governor decided to impose unwarranted restrictions that will only further exacerbate existing problems,” said Marcia Johnson-Blanco, co-director of the Voting Rights Project at the Lawyers’ Committee. “This law will inflict undue burdens on the very communities we should be encouraging to participate in our democracy – students, communities of color and poor persons.”

The Justice Department has to sign off on the law before it goes into effect. But that could change if the Supreme Court strikes down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires states like Virginia with a history of racial discrimination to have their voting laws and procedures approved by either the DOJ or a panel of federal judges in D.C.

Equally as important, the United States Supreme Court recently agreed to hear another affirmative action case. As reported in the Washington Post,

The Supreme Court decided Monday to take a second case concerning affirmative action in university admissions, agreeing to review a lower court’s decision that said Michigan’s ban on the use of race in college acceptance decisions was unconstitutional.

A bitterly divided U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit struck down the ban in 2012, six years after it was approved by 58 percent of the state’s voters. It is similar to constitutional amendments in several other states, including California and Florida.

The high court accepted Michigan’s appeal of the 6th Circuit opinion and will hear the case in the term that begins in October. The case will be heard by just eight justices; the court noted that Justice Elena Kagan recused herself.
The court earlier this term considered a challenge to the admissions process at the University of Texas, which considers race as one factor in choosing part of its freshman class. The justices heard oral arguments in that case in October and have not issued a decision.

Some had thought the court might hold the Michigan case until it rendered the Texas ruling, but the cases present different issues for the court. Michigan’s is a constitutional amendment forbidding the use of race. Texas contends that its use of race in limited circumstances is sanctioned by the Supreme Court’s recognition that universities have an interest in building diverse student populations.

A bare majority of the Michigan appeals court ruled that the ban on race-conscious admission decisions “reorders the political process in Michigan to place special burdens on minority interests” and thus violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection for all races.

Circuit Judge R. Guy Cole Jr., writing for the majority, said Michigan’s Proposal 2 “eliminated the consideration of ‘race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin’ in individualized admissions decisions, modifying policies in place for nearly a half-century.”
Why aren't black intellectuals, activists, and media forcing the media to cover these important matters? There has been some coverage, but not nearly enough. When the Michigan affirmative action case is heard, thousands upon thousands of African Americans should be rallying in front the Supreme Court. As the LGBT movement has done, we must develop more persuasive messaging. We cannot allow affirmative action to be defined as "reverse discrimination" or a "quota" system. We cannot allow the Voting Rights Act to be defined as "a racial entitlement". We must do better.   

The LGBT movement adopted its strategies and messaging from the civil rights movement. Now, it is our turn to learn from the LGBT movement.

This article is cross-posted on Jack and Jill Politics.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Obama Tap Dances for Israel

The Washington Post reports that:
President Obama arrived in Israel Wednesday for a three-day trip designed to engage a new Israeli government and skeptical public about his second-term foreign policy intentions, after a first term that stirred resentment here about the way he approached the Israeli-Palestinian peace issue.

After disembarking from Air Force One to a lavish greeting ceremony, Obama was quick to articulate the primary goal of his trip, his first overseas since beginning a second term.

“I see this visit as an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bonds between our nations, to restate America’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s security,” he said. “It makes us both stronger. It makes us both more prosperous. And it makes the world a better place.”

In welcoming Obama formally, Israeli President Shimon Peres said the visit, which Obama put off during his first term in the White House, is a demonstration of “the profound relationship between our two nations.”

In welcoming Obama formally, Israeli President Shimon Peres said the visit, which Obama put off during his first term in the White House, is a demonstration of “the profound relationship between our two nations.”

“From the depths of our hearts, from the depths of our history, toda raba — thank you,” Peres said, adding that Israel wants to live in peace with the Palestinians and all Arab nations.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Obama “for standing by Israel at this time of historic change in the Middle East” and affirming its “unequivocal right” to defend itself, a tacit reference to the growing threat Netanyahu believes is posed by Iran’s uranium-enrichment program.

“The need for our alliance is greater than ever,” Netanyahu said, also adding that “we seek a peace with our Palestinian neighbors.”

Obama is packing much into his visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank over three days. His goal is primarily remedial, fixing his sometimes poor relations with Israeli and Palestinian leaders as a precursor, perhaps, to a new U.S.-led push for peace talks. John F. Kerry, his new secretary of state, is accompanying him on the trip.

This story bothers me for a couple of reasons. I hate to see the President pander to AIPAC, especially after Benjamin Netanyahu disrespected him and basically endorsed Mitt Romney for President. Like his predecessors, President Obama unconditionally supports for Israel. Yet, his critics are still not satisfied. Instead of standing up to his critics, Obama decided to tap dance for Israel and shine Netanyahu's shoes.

During the trip, the President will reiterate and emphasize America's unwaivering support of Israel. America has squandered billions of dollars financing Israeli occupation and terrorism. At the same time, America never has enough money for the poor and the elderly at home. America never has enough to rebuild its infrastructure. America never has enough money to improve crumbling urban schools. Yet, America always has plenty of money to build Israel's arsenal of death and destruction.

Even more disturbing, this trip appears to be laying the groundwork for military action against Syria and Iran. 10 years after the Iraq fiasco, the war hawks are essentially pressuring the President to take military action against Iran and Syria. The last thing that the US needs to do is get involved in another armed conflict. It would be horrific and ironic if Nobel Peace Prize winner, Barack Obama, invades Syria based on the same sketchy rationale used to justify Bush's idiotic invasion of Iraq.

Thousands of US troops and Iraqi civilians were killed because of a lie. Many people are missing limbs because of a lie. Many people are paralyzed because of a lie. America's standing in the world is diminished because of a lie. I sincerely hope that President Obama does not repeat Bush's mistake.

Finally, the trip highlights the fact that the President has done very little to negotiate peace in the Middle East. The American people, the Israeli people and the Palestinian people do not need any more eloquent speeches and photo ops. We need peace.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Howard Students Make A Difference In The Community

Shout out to Khyla Craine

Many moons ago, I went to Howard University. Under the leadership of April Silver and Ras Baraka, we took over the Administration Building and demanded that racist Republican strategist Lee Atwater be removed from the university's Board of Trustees. As a result of our efforts, he resigned and the University implemented some reforms.

I am proud that Howard's legacy of activism continues today. Instead of hanging out on the beach partying and getting wasted, Howard students are spending their spring break serving communities plagued by poverty and violence. That spirit of activism and service gives me hope for the future.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Violence Will Never Stop!

Over the past week, two sickening tragedies occurred. The first one is the killing of six month old Jonylah Watkins. The Huffington Post reports that:
The 6-month-old infant girl shot five times on Chicago's South Side Monday died in the hospital Tuesday morning.

Jonylah Watkins was rushed to Comer Children's Hospital Monday afternoon in serious-to-critical condition after being shot in the 6500 block of South Maryland Avenue in the city's Woodlawn neighborhood around 12:48 p.m. Her father, Jonathan Watkins, had been changing her diaper in the front passenger seat of a Chevy Venture minivan when a gunman approached them and opened fire. He fled in a waiting van.

Jonylah had sustained wounds in her lung, liver, leg, shoulder and bowel or intestine, according to DNAinfo Chicago, and had undergone at least five hours of surgery.

The second story is the police killing of Kimani Gray. The Huffington Post reports that:
Carol Gray, her head wrapped in a black scarf and her tearful eyes concealed by sunglasses, held up a photograph of her 16-year-old son, who was shot and killed by police.

The picture revealed a grinning boy wearing a blue cap and gown, his arms wrapped around his mother. It was taken the day he graduated from middle school.

"He was slaughtered," Gray told a room filled with reporters. "And I want to know why."

Gray held a sorrowful press conference on Thursday to talk about her son, Kimani Gray, the kid nicknamed Kiki, who died on Saturday night after being shot seven times by two police officers. Police say the plainclothes officers opened fire after Gray pointed a gun at them.

A .38-caliber revolver purchased in Florida was recovered from the scene.

Gray was killed in front of his best friend's house as he left a Sweet 16 birthday party, said his grieving mother, who doesn't believe he could have pointed a gun at police.

"Today was very hard," she said, and paused for a long moment before she was able to finish the sentence. "I had to choose the color of the casket that I wanted."

The teenager's death has provoked outrage in East Flatbush, the working-class area of Brooklyn where he lived and died, a place that is among the city's most dangerous neighborhoods. Long-simmering resentment against the police officers who patrol these streets has erupted into violence in recent days, with 46 people arrested in the most recent protest on Wednesday night.
Inner city violence and police brutality are twin evils that plague our communities. They are symbiotic and seemingly permanent. No matter who is in the White House, the state house, or the city hall, those evils continue to exist. Under Democrats and Republicans, those problems continue to exist. After all the prayer vigils, marches, rallies, speeches, punditry and even rebellions, inner city violence and police brutality continue to exist. Since the 1980s, we have been talking about stopping the violence.  Since forever, we have been fighting to end police brutality.

Every day, from Baltimore to Chicago to Los Angeles, we hear about the shooting and killing of another black youth by another black youth. It is so routine and regular that we become emotionally numb to it. We expect it like we expect the sun to raise. When these young brothers and sisters die, there are no national photo ops. When these young brothers and sisters die, there are no national calls for gun control. Our communities are an afterthought.

The victims are usually killed by their own "brothers and sisters". Although they are not killed by white racist skinheads and KKK members, they are killed by institutionalized racism, unemployment, poverty, inferior education, ignorance and benign neglect combined with the influx of guns and narcotics. As long as those problems remain unabated, inner city violence will persist.

Only a couple of months after the death of Hadiya Pendleton, Chicago gang violence has taken another precious life. At the tender age of 6 months, Jonylah Warkins' life was snuffed out by gangsters. Not even the babies are safe in this cold violent world. In the movies, even the gangsters have a code. They do not kill children. In real life, they don't give a damn.

Such senseless violence perpetuates the stereotype that black men are inherently violent and dangerous. Unlike white people, we are not judged as individuals. We are judged and punished as a collective. After Newtown, Columbine, Aurora, Oklahoma City and all the other massacres committed by white males, police did not start profiling white men.

However, racial profiling is an immutable part of the black experience. African Americans are viewed as thugs, gangsters, killers and drug dealers. Sadly, that perception is fueled by media. Every day on the news, we are bombarded with images of black men as criminal suspects. We see black men being put in shackles like slaves. We hear about black male suspects killing innocent children like Hadiya Pendleton and Jonylah Watkins. All of those things make the public in general and the police in particular fear the black man. Such perceptions breed police misconduct and brutality. They give the police a license to stop, frisk, humiliate and kill black people. As long as those conditions exist, the cycle of violence will never stop. We continue to read about the Kimani Grays, Sean Bells, Amadou Diallos, Rodney Kings and Oscar Grants.

Friday, March 8, 2013

John Brennan's Appointment Exposes the Democrats' Hypocrisy

“If they come for me in the morning, they will come for you in the night.”
Angela Y. Davis

As reported in the Washington Post,

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) forced Washington slightly off its axis Thursday after he filibustered President Obama’s pick to head the CIA. The rare “talking filibuster” generated extraordinary scrutiny of the Obama administration’s drone-strike program and revealed some surprising divisions and alliances on Capitol Hill over the president’s anti-terrorism tactics overseas.

The filibuster culminated in the Senate confirmation of John O. Brennan to be director of the CIA by a vote of 63 to 34. But it scrambled the usual partisan landscape in the Capitol, with some Republican lawmakers attacking Paul for criticizing the president, while liberals and Democrats praised him. Of the 81 votes to end the filibuster, 28 were from Republicans, 13 of whom also voted to confirm Brennan.

The filibuster began Wednesday afternoon and lasted for nearly 13 hours, ending after midnight on Thursday. Paul was demanding that the White House clarify that it would not use aerial drones on U.S. soil to kill American citizens suspected of terrorism — a point on which he felt the administration had not been sufficiently clear.

Brennan’s nomination forced the administration to be more forthcoming about its secretive drone operations, which have devastated al-Qaeda’s core leadership in Pakistan and have been expanded to target affiliated groups in Yemen and Somalia.

...Brennan, a CIA veteran and former station chief in Saudi Arabia, has served as Obama’s principal counterterrorism adviser for the past four years and one of the chief architects of the program that has emerged as the spy agency’s signature counterterrorism tactic. The Brennan nomination brought unprecedented scrutiny to the administration’s use of drones to kill terrorist suspects overseas, and in recent days critics have questioned whether it could be imported to the United States to target American terrorism suspects at home.

A still-theoretical discussion about the domestic use of armed drones emerged in recent days from congressional demands to review Justice Department legal opinions that justified the 2011 drone killing in Yemen of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen.
Brennan supported torture.  He is the architect of the drone program. For more information, read the Salon article entitled 5 Terrifying Facts About John Brennan. I am deeply disappointed that only a few progressives opposed Brennan's nomination. His appointment exposes the Democrats' hypocrisy. It is hypocritical to oppose one policy under Bush and then support the same policy under Obama. Sadly, that is exactly what some liberals have done. 

During the Bush Administration, progressives marched in the streets and on the White House demanding an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They marched against America's drone policy. Some continue to protest. Prominent Democrats, including candidate Obama, voiced opposition to the Iraq war. In fact, many progressives voted for Obama because of his opposition to the Iraq war. 

After Obama's election, most liberals became pacified and unconscious. Basically, the peace movement in America is dead. Except for a few fringe groups like Code Pink, many so-called liberals don't care about the drone program as long as Obama is the Commander-in-Chief. They don't care about the President having the power to kill Americans abroad, and possibly at home, without evidence or trial. They do not care about the government violating citizens' due process rights. They don't care about the drones killing innocent men, women and children in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and other countries around the world. They don't care about military intervention in Libya, Syria and other countries. 

Some of them attempt to promote group think by demonizing and isolating anyone who has the audacity to question Obama's kill policy and Brennan's appointment. In addition, they desperately try to change the subject by demanding that people talk about Chris Dorner, the LAPD and police brutality. Those important issues should be thoroughly discussed by the media as well. However, Obama's kill policy must be discussed as well. It cannot be ignored.

Throughout our history, African Americans have been denied due process of law. Too often, police officers kill black people without evidence or trial. Clearly, we should be the last people to support Obama's kill policy. It is sickening to see so many African Americans support this unconscionable policy. It is appalling to see so many remain silent. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., there comes a time when silence is betrayal. That time is now.

Have they forgotten about all the African American leaders summarily executed during the Cointelpro era? Have they forgotten about the killing of Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Fred Hampton, Mark Clark and many others?

Today, Obama is in the White House. We may trust his judgment.  But, what about the precedent being created?  What about future presidents who may be even more militaristic?  Today, Middle Eastern, Muslim men are the target.  Tomorrow, it could be you. As Pastor Niemoller said in First They Came After the Jews,

First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.
Now that Brennan's appointment is a done deal, we must speak out and demand more legislative and judicial oversight of the drone program.

This article is cross-posted on Jack and Jill Politics.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Voting Rights Act is Not A Racial Entitlement

Last week, during oral arguments for Shelby County v. Holder, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Scalia made the following controversial comments:
"The problem here, however, is suggested by the comment I made earlier, that the initial enactment of this legislation in a -- in a time when the need for it was so much more abundantly clear was -- in the Senate, there -- it was double-digits against it. And that was only a 5-year term.

Then, it is reenacted 5 years later, again for a 5-year term. Double-digits against it in the Senate. Then it was reenacted for 7 years. Single digits against it. Then enacted for 25 years, 8 Senate votes against it.

And this last enactment, not a single vote in the Senate against it. And the House is pretty much the same. Now, I don't think that's attributable to the fact that it is so much clearer now that we need this. I think it is attributable, very likely attributable, to a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement. It's been written about. Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes."
Justice Scalia's dismissive and condescending remarks are highly offensive for three reasons. First, the term" racial entitlements" implies that the Voting Rights Act ('VRA") is a voluntary handout to an undeserving people. 

That outlook negates our history and our struggle for voting rights. We must never forget our history. Never. The VRA is written in our blood.  Africans did not come to this country on the Mayflower. We did not voluntarily immigrate to this country. We were kidnapped and brought to this nation in chains. We were not citizens. We were property like a horse or cow. In fact, farm animals were treated with more respect and dignity than black people.

White supremacy was the only real racial entitlement system in America.  By law, the white man was entitled to rape, beat and kill black people with impunity.  In the words of the Dred Scott decision, the black man did not have any rights that the white man was bound to recognize.

After slavery, Congress passed the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments. Those laws granted us citizenship rights. The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery. The Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed due process rights and equal protection under the law. The Fifteenth Amendment guaranteed all citizens the right to vote.

Despite the enactment of those crucial Constitutional Amendments, the forces of white supremacy used outright terrorism and Jim Crow laws to deprive African Americans of the right to vote and other basic civil and human rights. White racists did everything in their power to ensure that only white people were entitled to vote. The former states of Confederacy used poll taxes and so-called literacy tests to disenfranchise African Americans. Such tactics maintained the racist white power structure in the South with an iron fist.

We fought to end such racist practices. We marched and litigated. In response, police officers brutally beat us with batons and unleashed vicious dogs on us. The dogs bit us and ripped our clothes and flesh. To extinguish our hope, firemen used powerful blasts of cold water to slam us against buildings and throw us down the street. In addition to police brutality, we were victims of domestic terrorism. Terrorists assassinated civil rights activists like Medger Evers and countless others.

As a result of our struggle and sacrifice, Congress enacted the VRA to fulfill the broken promises of the Fifteenth Amendment. It was not a racial entitlement. Section 2 of the VRA prohibits discriminatory voting laws. Section 5 requires jurisdictions with a history of discriminating against African Americans to obtain preclearance from the Department of Justice and/or the United States District Court for the District of Columbia prior to enacting any changes in their voting laws.

Second, Scalia's comments suggest that Section 5 is unwarranted and unnecessary. VRA's effectiveness is unquestionable. It is evident by the increased black voter registration and participation rates. It is clear by the astronomical increase in the number of African American elected officials on the local, state and federal level. The election and reelection of President Obama, the nation's first African American President, epitomizes the VRA's success. However, the U.S. Senate remains virtually all white.  Moreover, there have been very few black governors.  Those are clear reminders that America still has a long way to go.

Section 5 is essential. Unlike Section 2, Section 5 prevents discrimination before it occurs. It saves plaintiffs the time and expense of trial. It places the burden on former Jim Crow states to demonstrate that their proposed voting laws changes will not adversely impact minority voters.

Shelby County, the petitioner, is prime example of why we still need Section 5. As Justice Sotomayer pointed out during oral arguments, the County had 240 discriminatory voting laws blocked by Section 5 and numerous violations remedied by Section 2 litigation. During oral arguments, Justice Kagan noted that the successful Section 2 litigation rate is four times higher in the covered jurisdictions than the rate in the non-covered jurisdictions. Again, that is more proof that Section 5 is still necessary.

Contrary to the Justice Scalia's assertions, Section 5 was not reauthorized for purely cynical political reasons. In 2006, Congress reviewed an extensive record, conducted hearings and determined that Section 5 was still necessary. Instead of respecting the role of the legislative branch and extending due deference, Justice Scalia and the other conservative justices question the findings and motives of Congress. If that is not judicial activism, I don't know what is. Where are those conservatives who usually love to complain about judicial activism?!?

As Congress did, we must realize that racism is not dead. As LDF attorney Debo Adegbile asserted during oral arguments, some white Alabama legislators in 2011 referred to African American voters as "illiterates" and "aborigines".  Most of the time, racism is less overt. It is covert. It has evolved and adapted to the times. Poll taxes and literacy tests have been replaced with restrictive voter ID laws, voter purges, ending early voting, documentary proof of citizenship requirements, restrictions on voter registration and deliberate noncompliance with the National Voter Registration Act. Such modern day tactics are designed to suppress minority voters.  As reported by Think Progress, Republican politicians in Florida, one of the states covered under Section 5, admitted that such laws are designed to suppress minority voters. 

Section 5 is an effective tool to address this new covert form of racism. In 2012, Section 5 prevented states such as Texas and South Carolina from enacting restrictive voter ID laws. Without the safeguards of Section 5, such voter suppression and dilution tactics will escalate in the South and throughout the other covered jurisdictions.

Finally, Scalia's statements imply that only minorities benefit from Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Section 5 benefits the entire nation. It has enabled this country to get closer to fulfilling its democratic ideals.  It protects all citizens' rights to participate in the electoral process. Such competition and involvement helps produce the best form of government. In sum, Section 5 is not a racial entitlement. It is a remedy to racial entitlement.

This article is cross-posted on Jack and Jill Politics.