Friday, February 10, 2006

Disenfranchising Africans in AmeriKKKa

Disenfranchising Africans in AmeriKKKa

“American laws that strip convicted felons of the right to vote, barring nearly five million from the polls in the last election, are the most punitive and regressive laws of their kind in the democratic world. Several states have recently softened or eliminated the voting bans, and many others are considering laws that could eventually establish voting as a basic American right that should never be curtailed in a way that bars a whole class of people from the polls. This attitude is gaining traction even in the Deep South, which pioneered voting bans to disenfranchise black Americans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. But the new trend toward fairness has somehow vaulted over Pennsylvania, where the Republican majority in the State House is pushing to pass one of the most odious felon-voting bans ever seen above the Mason-Dixon line. ” New York Times 02-10-06

This past Sunday immediately after I finished my Internet radio program I served as a guest on a Philadelphia AM station owned by blacks, where ironically I got my start in radio, WHAT 1340 AM. The program Prism is hosted by a Jewish woman and a Sistah. I was a co-guest with another writer, Internet Web Mistress and Internet radio talk show host Carol Williams. We spoke about the Internet, politics, current events and her new Internet radio station World Wide Community Radio on www.justiceandhumanity.com . One of the topics we mentioned was a pending bill in the Pennsylvania legislature that will prevent convicted felons from voting in any election. When the topic was mentioned and I got a chance to speak ( it was rough being on a program with three women who were physically in the studio and I was participating via telephone call in) I immediately pointed out the political implications of the bill; that it was a vicious attempt to disenfranchise mostly black and brown people. In my opinion such a move would reduce them to passive, impotent non-entities in the political process. Whites have a long history of attempting to keep black people out of the system but the fascists in the Republican Party are doing everything within their power to create a one party monopoly in AmeriKKKa. They desperately want to swing Pennsylvania and New Jersey into the Republican column and just as they did in Florida in 2000 they feel this is the best way to do it by eliminating as many people of color as possible! Hopefully the Democrats in Pennsylvania are more resourceful, courageous and aggressive than their counterparts in the US Congress and Senate when it comes to thwarting the nefarious plans of their Republicans colleagues. All over the country grass roots organizations, voting and prison rights groups are battling to turn back attempts to disenfranchise prisoners most of whom are African-AmeriKKKan and Hispanic. People like Roberta Franklin a talk show host on WAPZ 1250 AM in Montgomery Alabama organized a grassroots rally and March on Washington D.C. in Lafayette Park across from the White House this past Summer on August 13, 2005. One of the main issues she and other speakers railed against; was the deliberate attempts to strike millions from the voting rolls simply because they have a criminal record. Prior to her organizing the D.C. rally, Roberta Franklin waged a grass roots campaign in Alabama to demand sentencing and prisoner rights reform. If people like Roberta Franklin can do it in a place like Alabama surely the folks in Pennsylvania can beat back the fascist forces of oppression and disenfranchisement.
An Op-Ed piece in the New York Times pointed out the Pennsylvania Bill is designed to impact future elections by purging the election rolls of many who would normally support Democrats. The Republicans are waging class warfare and their strategy is to undermine the least of those who might normally vote Democratic. Unfortunately on the national level the Democrats are aiding them by being so Milquetoast and turning their backs on their traditional core constituencies of organized labor, progressive social activists including the anti-war movement, civil rights and working class folks as they seek to move the Democratic Party further to the right themselves. The Republican plan is so odious, it is a no brainer for the Democrats to oppose it and expose the Republicans for the scum they are. According to the New York Times, “Under current Pennsylvania law, people can vote once they leave prison. But a bill pending in the Legislature would disenfranchise those on parole or probation. The bill would go further and bar convicts from voting until the dates when their maximum sentences would expire — even if they had been fully released from the system much earlier. Pennsylvania, a swing state that will hold some critical elections this fall, is being barraged by legislation, championed by Republican lawmakers, that would raise voting barriers, especially for groups that tend to be Democratic. One measure would institute one of the most restrictive voter-identification laws in the nation, in a state that currently requires only first-time voters to prove their identities. Pennsylvanians — who have been at the forefront of fairness in voting rights issues — should not allow partisanship to erase that legacy.” www.nytimes.com/2006/02/10/opinion Surely the Democratic Party in Pennsylvania should seize on such an attempt by the Republicans to disenfranchise a large number of blacks and Hispanics and make that a rallying cry to spur increased interest in electoral politics. Whether they will or not remains to be seen. If the Republicans are successful in Pennsylvania they may set a trend that turns the clock back and ushers in an era of massive black disenfranchisement. It would not surprise me given the way things are going and it is obvious the Republicans are trying to go retro by bringing back the days of the robber barons, eliminating vestiges of New Deal Social Welfare programs and restoring racial disenfranchisement across the land.

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