In the past, I wrote about the subject of “racism,” and while that term continues to be a sensitive topic for discussion, I had to consider if I really wanted to approach this subject again. After careful consideration, however, I have concluded that a significant number of events have occurred since Donald Trump has been elected President that continue to produce ample evidence for me that twenty-first century racism, bigotry and hate have increased significantly. Racism and the “Jim Crow” era have resurged with added vitriol and hate among some members of the Republican Party and various hate groups that identify with Republicans.
Neo-Nazis and White Supremacy groups suddenly seem highly visible following their recent violent riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left counter-protester Heather Heyer dead. The protest was largely void of Klan hoods, suggesting that neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan are feeling more emboldened since Trump had verbally encouraged such hate and violence during his candidacy. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the number of hate groups is currently near the country’s all-time recorded high in 2011. The SPLC reports that as of 2016, there are 917 active groups. (That’s 100 fewer than the 1,108 groups reported in 2011.) The SPLC’s hate map identifies groups by tracking their publications and websites. Of those 917, more than 90 are neo-Nazi groups. California has the highest number with 79, followed by Florida with 63 and Texas with 55.
The purpose of this article is not to imply that all white Americans are racist. On the contrary, most are loving American citizens who believe strongly in equality for all. In fact, the majority of Americans who confronted the recent Nazis and White Supremacy groups in Charlottesville where White Americans even though the groups’ vitriol primarily targets people of color.
Racism is nothing new to African Americans and other minorities. As a 75 year old senior citizen, I have personally experienced both blatant and subtle racism. I entered Federal Service in 1961 and witnessed discrimination in hiring, promotion and work assignment practices. African Americans were typically assigned to the docket, mail room or messenger pools regardless of how they scored on Civil Service and Federal entrance examinations. However, after the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, Federal agencies were required to establish hiring goals that opened a number of opportunities for African Americans and other minorities. That was also a time when Federal Equal Employment Opportunity officers were hired by agencies to monitor progress. Although these events were welcomed by the minority community, they were not readily accepted by members of the white community. At my Federal agency, for example, some of my white colleagues would barely acknowledge African American employees within the confines of the building and completely ignored most while passing on the street. However, after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King on April 4, 1968, when six days of riots erupted in Washington, DC, suddenly, white sentiment changed; politeness and courtesies were finally extended to African American employees. It was unfortunate that a riot produced these results.
Much progress had been made in attempting to eliminate racism and bigotry; however, there was a significant set-back caused by members of the Republican Party when President Obama was inaugurated as the first African American President and re-elected to a second term. Overt racist attacks became even more blatant through congressional Republican verbal assaults on President Obama, Attorney General Holder, and some African Americans in Congress. We shouldn’t forget that a racist nucleus of mad white Americans has never supported racial equality. In fact, their political representatives voted against both the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965.
The Supreme Court dealt a major blow to Civil Rights, more specifically, affirmative action on Tuesday, April 22, 2014, upholding the decision of Michigan voters — and by implication similar bans in California and six other states — to forbid the use of race as a factor in deciding who is admitted to state universities. In a 6-2 ruling, the Court brushed aside claims that such bans amounted to discrimination against minorities, ending constitutional challenges to the state ballot measures.
“This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said for the court. “It is about who may resolve it. There is no authority in the Constitution of the United States or in this court’s precedents for the judiciary to set aside Michigan laws that commit this policy determination to the voters.”
In a vehement dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor faulted her colleagues for what she said was their “refusal to accept the stark reality that race matters.”
The Constitution does not “give the majority free rein to erect selective barriers against racial minorities,” she said, reading her dissent aloud in court. She cited a brief from the University of California chancellors reporting on the drop in the percentage of African American and Latino students at UC Berkeley and UCLA.
“To take away the rights of minorities is a shocking decision,” said George Washington, a Detroit lawyer who challenged the law. “With this, and the voting rights decision last year, it’s clear the Supreme Court is undoing the rights gained by blacks and Latino people in the 1960s and 1970s.”
To continue to weaken affirmative action policies and programs, the Trump Justice Department has redirected its Civil Rights division’s resources toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants, according to a document obtain by the New York Times. That document, an internal announcement to the Civil Rights division, seeks current lawyers interested in working for a new project on “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.”
Although the coverage the Trump Justice Department got from the media on its new policy simply suggested that the Justice Department has having fallen into the hands of racists, the louder message was the one heard by conservatives. Although conservatives might have doubt about Trump’s conduct, veracity, and allegiance to conservative ideas, the “almost fired” Attorney General Jeff Sessions has given disgruntled Republicans one more reason to think their efforts to elect Trump were justified. For progressives, however, the Justice Department’s policy shift is simply a payoff to white racists and extremists who resent any help given to minorities.
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