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Est. April 5, 2002
Apr 29, 2021 - Issue 863
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The 2020 census is in, and states are dividing up the political spoils. California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia will lose a Congressional seat. Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Montana, and Oregon are gaining a single seat, while Texas increases its Congressional delegation by two.

These initial results loom large for expanding the political power of Blacks along with that of Asian and Pacific Islander, Hispanic, and Indigenous Americans. These population groups were the linchpins in the election of Joe Biden to the presidency in 2020. The key question now is: what will Blacks do with these opportunities?

African American population growth has been significant in Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, and Texas and could be an important factor in state legislative and U.S. Congressional races in 2022. Sadly, it will have less impact in the redistricting process which has already begun and accounts for Republican control of 30 state legislatures, whereas Democrats hold power in just 18, a little more than half the Republican number, with two legislatures split between the two.

Black U.S. Court of Appeals Judge James A. Wynn, in a stinging 191-page opinion overturning the redistricting map drawn up by Republicans in North Carolina in 2018, ruled that they were “motivated by invidious partisan intent” in drawing districts to disempower Blacks with “surgical precision.” This was the first time a federal court blocked a Congressional map because the judges believed it to be biased.

Many advocates of voting fairness have cited and reinforced this finding, including former President Barack Obama during his eulogy for late Congressman John Lewis at his Atlanta funeral in Atlanta on July 30, 2020. Judge Wynn’s assessment has resonated throughout the voting rights community as Republican minority voter suppression efforts are becoming more apparent and escalating.

Lawmakers in 47 states have introduced bills aimed at restricting minority citizens’ ballot access, according to a new calculation by the Brennan Center for Justice. Republicans are laser-focused on these tactics as they view them as their only way to keep and gain power in states and a nation that is rapidly losing its majority White status.

This shows the ongoing political organizing adjustments made by conservative White Republicans and their minions. They plan to lock in a political infrastructure much like the White-ruled South Africa Nationalist Party did in 1948 until it ended in the early 1990s in a series of steps that led to the formation of a democratic government in 1994.

The country's harsh, institutionalized system of racial segregation and subjugation of a Black population, nearly ten times the size of the White population, was successful as a result of its rigid political machinations and its alliances for mutual geopolitical benefit with several western nations, including the United States. It took some time and many in-country protests before these nations renounced South Africa and Apartheid.

Black South Africans, led by Nelson Mandela, organized and kept up the fight until they broke this insidious system. African Americans and other U.S. minority groups are now living under conditions that are moving in an Apartheid-like direction in terms of poverty, growing income inequality, and crafty disenfranchisement.

To forestall this approaching reality, Blacks must systematically organize as their brothers and sisters did in Georgia in the years leading up to the 2020 presidential and statewide elections. Although the first African American female candidate for governor (and the first in the nation), Stacey Abrams, narrowly lost her bid for the office, her 10-year effort in building the New Georgia Project (NGP), a voter registration mission to add the fast-growing ethnic minority groups to the voting rolls, brought her fame.

She and her cohorts in the NGP, along with Fair Fight, another voting rights organization she founded in the wake of her losing campaign for governor in 2018, played a significant role in turning Georgia blue in 2020, delivering the state’s electoral votes to Joe Biden and sending Georgia’s first Democratic Black and Jewish senators to Congress.

Blacks need to replicate such initiatives by organizing minority voters in every state where their numbers are swelling. By pursuing this agenda, they will change the makeup of state legislatures and elect more people of color to office and/or meaningfully influence those Whites who are already there. These are the roads to real political power.

In the meantime, their White counterparts are already in the field identifying minority candidates to pit against each other so a White candidate can shoot the breach, or they are working to elect a pliable minority candidate. They have employed the latter strategy in Connecticut, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Utah to put Black Republicans in office, and more plans for such schemes are currently being developed in tandem with Republican voter suppression policies.

But political skullduggery persists. For example, in 2018, the Republicans hatched a plan to rig the election and came close to stealing the 9th District Congressional seat in eastern North Carolina.

Ironically, a day after the Minneapolis, Minnesota jury rendered the Derek Chauvin guilty verdicts in the George Floyd murder case, Andrew Brown was shot in the back of the head, while allegedly fleeing Sheriff’s deputies who were serving him an arrest warrant in the same area of North Carolina. And during this period, police officers killed six other Blacks across the country in suspicious circumstances. These situations, as horrific as they are, also present occasions for African American political mobilization.

Blacks must organize to take advantage of this political moment. Otherwise, they will be on a slow roll toward political and social Apartheid. Columnist, Dr. Walter C. Farrell, Jr., PhD, MSPH, is a Fellow of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado-Boulder and has written widely on vouchers, charter schools, and public school privatization. He has served as Professor of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and as Professor of Educational Policy and Community Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Contact Dr. Farrell and BC.

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is published  Thursday
Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
Peter Gamble

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