Thankful That We Won This Round, But Fight Never Over
When I finished graduate school, I told my cousin Rev. Christopher Walls, Sr. that I would never go to school again.
He replied, correctly I might add, that school never ends because learning is a lifelong journey.
Unfortunately, the same can be said about the fight for voting rights in the African-American community.
Although gains were made in the fight against voter suppression with the help of people like Stacey Abrams in states like Georgia, the system is still designed to prevent African-Americans and other minorities from having a voice in this country.
To the soldiers on the frontline for our community daily like Abrams, I am sincerely thankful.
Like many in the African-American community, I was relieved that President-elect Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
Although it could be argued that President Trump did enact legislation that helps African-Americans like prison reform, I always saw through his jive a$$ like glass.
Trump always came across as a person that cared more about himself than the people he served because he does truly only care about himself.
And throughout his adult life he has always shown his disdain for African-Americans from housing discrimination to calling for the death penalty for the Exonerated Five to making dismissive remarks about African-Americans living in poor communities.
To make matters worse, his Make America Great Again rallies appeared more like Ku Klux Klan rallies than political rallies, especially when he encouraged his supporters to attack African-American protestors during the 2016 presidential election.
But the lengths that Republicans went to in order to steal the election via voter suppression was extremely scary, especially since Trump and his cult followers often pretended to not know what voter suppression and racism truly meant.
For those in the slow classes, voter suppression is anything done to prevent others from voting, or simply making it more difficult to vote.
And racism, or more specifically White supremacy, is the notion that a person is better than another person simply because they have White skin.
White supremacy can sum up Trump’s rise to popularity amongst a certain section of the population, even if many refuse to admit it.
Not too many people get so hysterical about a politician simply because they like his or her tax plan 0r ideas about healthcare.
People often get worked into a frenzy when they feel comfortable expressing their prejudices and bigotry.
And the frenzy that Trump began whipping up long before he ran for the White House came as a result of the historic election of the first African-American commander-in-chief, former President Barack Obama.
His ascendancy to the White House created the backlash that led to the great White hope of politics, Trump.
African-American men earned the right to vote right after the abolishment of slavery.
The right to vote is guaranteed in the constitution.
But when African-Americans first received the right to vote and even won political races, the White powers-that-be in the South had to do something to thwart that advancement.
Therefore, Southern states enacted segregation laws and discriminatory practices known as Jim Crow laws and Black codes.
Furthermore, Southern states made it virtually impossible for African-Americans to vote by enacting rules such as literacy tests, poll taxes and grandfather clauses that made it nearly impossible for African-Americans to vote.
Poll taxes meant that African-Americans had to pay a fee to vote, which became extremely difficult because of the lack of affluent African-Americans back in the day.
Literacy tests meant that if an African-American could not recite the entire United States Constitution verbatim from memory, they could not vote because to evil racists, literacy did not simply mean knowing how to read or write.
For African-Americans, you were illiterate if you could not memorize the entire U.S. Constitution word for word.
But just in case an African-American had a memory like an elephant, they had to meet the grandfather clause requirements, which meant that if your grandfather could not legally vote, then neither could you.
However, if your grandfather was a slave then he obviously could not vote and neither could you.
For those who slipped through the cracks and casted a vote, death usually followed at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan or other White terrorist groups.
Trump, and his Republican cult followers, unsuccessfully used the same tactics as their ancestors did down south in the late 1800s.
The outgoing president encouraged his cult followers to intimidate voters by showing up at the polls to “observe” poll workers to make sure voter fraud was not committed.
States like Georgia began purging voter rolls years earlier to limit the amount of people allowed to vote.
Florida required ex-felons to pay a poll tax to restore their voting rights, which in theory would limit the amount of voters.
Higher voter turnout often benefits Democratic candidates.
Trump and Post Master General Louis DeJoy slowed down the mail service, got rid of some mail sorting equipment, cut hours for postal workers and other shenanigans to prevent many people from voting by mail during a global pandemic.
In states like Texas, voter drop boxes were limited to one per county.
For residents of Harris County, Texas, they had to travel to NRG Park on the south side of Houston, no matter what part of the county they came from.
If anybody knows the Greater Houston area, sprawling is not a strong enough adjective to describe how big a place the city is.
Furthermore, voter suppression tactics like voter I.D. laws disproportionately and adversely impact older and poor people of color.
Despite all of these voter suppression tactics, Trump still lost by approximately 6 million votes and lost in a landslide in the Electoral College.
But in one last-ditch effort to suppress African-American voters, his cult spokesperson Rudy Giuliani wanted to get all of the votes tossed in predominantly African-American cities like Detroit and Atlanta.
The depths at which some White politicians and citizens will go to strip African-Americans of their rights lets us know that we have not come that far since the days of Jim Crow.
So while I am extremely thankful that we only have a few weeks remaining of the Trump nightmare, my cousin’s words still ring in my ear because the work towards equality is never over for African-Americans.