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Racism Hidden in Plain View Racism Hidden in Plain View

- (Huffington) - 1 years, 12 months ago...

One of the odd things about our era is that 50 years after the great civil rights era, ugly realities that the black community knows all too intimately are finally being recognized by the broader society. The question is whether constructive change will result. The Sunday New York Times, based on its own exhaustive study of tens of thousands of traffic stops, reports that blacks are far more likely to be stopped, then arrested and sometimes brutalized, for minor traffic infractions than whites. The piece, focusing on the relatively moderate city of Greensboro, N.C., provides more detail than has ever been reported in a major press account. This was no surprise to the black community, which lives these realities daily. Since Ferguson, the press has been paying more attention to the killings of young black men by police. The pattern is not new; only the intensified press coverage is. The media has also been shining a belated spotlight on the fact that people of color are far more likely to be jailed for minor offenses for which whites generally are released in their own recognizance, or allowed to make modest bails. We are also getting far more coverage of the racial disparities in who gets sentenced to prison for what crimes and for how long. This wasn't really "news" either. It just didn't get the attention it deserved. To add insult to injury, it's shocking (and not entirely surprising) that as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, voting rights of African-Americans are being taken away by rightwing state governments, using the very techniques that the 1965 Act prohibited -- techniques that were legalized after the fact by a partisan Supreme Court. In the South of the 1980s and 1990s, there were bi-racial voting coalitions that elected economically centrist and racially moderate governors and senators to statewide office, even in the Deep South. Bill Clinton of Arkansas was one such governor. Albert Gore, Jr. of Tennessee was one such senator. Other racial moderates elected by coalitions of blacks and whites included Democratic governors Jim Hunt (1977-85; 1993-2001, Mike Easley (2001-2009) and Beverly Perdue (2009-2013) of North Carolina, Richard Riley of South Carolina (1979-87), Zell Miller (1991-1999) and Roy Barnes (1999-2003) of Georgia, and even Ray Mabus (1988-1992) and Ronnie Musgrove (2000-2004) in Mississippi -- not to mention several Democrats elected in more ambiguously southern places like Florida and Texas. And several senators as well. Those days are just about gone. The Republican Party in the Deep South is a mostly white party and the Democrats mostly a black party. The GOP has successfully played the race card, and biracial governing coalitions are getting scarce. Today, there are no Democratic governors in the 13 states of the old Confederacy, and a shrinking number of Democratic state legislators. To be sure, 2014 was a worse wipeout than usual for Democrats, ...

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