The Beginning of the End?

While attending the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) annual convention in Nashville, TN, this past week, I woke up on Thursday, June 29th, with my mind set on being empowered during the scheduled day of events and workshops. As I opened my eyes and rose from the bed, I couldn’t help but notice that my phone was unusually active that morning, constantly alerting me that something newsworthy had occurred. It was demanding my attention.

I immediately grabbed my phone, went to the news alerts that had populated, and realized why those news alerts had become so numerous.

The U.S. Supreme Court voted to end affirmative action!

That’s right…After years of select people trying to get rid of affirmative action in higher education, the majority-conservative U.S. Supreme Court ruled that public and private colleges and universities could no longer use race as a factor to allow students to be admitted.

As NNPA attendees congregated throughout the day, news of the Supreme Court affirmative action decision was continuously mentioned and talked about. In speaking with a longtime Black publisher of a highly respected Black newspaper in this country, I asked him what his thoughts were about the Supreme Court ruling. His short and simple response was not only eye-opening to me, but it was also concerning, as he said: Is this the beginning of the end?

To hear a seasoned Black man, who has lived through the Civil Rights movement, and who has been on the frontlines fighting for justice, share such a cryptic and seemingly bleak rhetorical question back to me in response to the ruling was not something I was expecting to hear. However, he did make me think even more intently about his response.

If we as a people don’t start doing things differently and begin to understand that the powers that be are hell-bent on doing whatever they have to do to remain in power, while reversing the progressive gains we have made in this country—post slavery and the Civil Rights movement—then we will find ourselves having hit the ceiling of progress and future growth in this country.

As stated earlier, the Supreme Court ruling was shocking to me, but it was not surprising.

I mean, after all, the decision was made by six conservative-appointed justices—three of which were appointed by former president Donald J. Trump (Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett).  It was never a secret that conservative Republicans wanted those seats replaced by justices who would carry out their bidding, and that is exactly what they are doing.

Remember back in 2016, when former president Barack Obama nominated Merrick B. Garland to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died that same year, and was denied that opportunity by the Senate Republicans because he was ending his term that year?

Well, in a hypocritical move, the same Republican Party allowed Trump to nominate Coney Barrett, and the Senate Republicans confirmed her, although there was an election taking place in slightly over a month to determine the future of his presidency.

As we know now, Trump lost, but the Republicans won.

But as African Americans, did we lose too?

Within the last ten years, we have seen the conservative-appointed members of the Supreme Court take actions that have impacted African Americans in a major way, especially regarding initiatives and policies that were put in place to level the playing field in America for us.

It has been literally ten years since the Supreme Court stripped the Voting Rights Act of 1965, of the most powerful civil rights voting protections in the history of this country for African Americans.

After decades of marches, protests, physical attacks, arrests, and even murders, the unrelenting champions and leaders of our Civil Rights struggle—who successfully lobbied for this important piece of legislation to become law—saw a 5-4 majority of conservative-appointed Supreme Court justices rule in the Shelby County v. Holder case to literally remove Section 5 from the law.

This was significant because Section 5 in the Voting Rights Act of 1965, made it mandatory for many states—such as Texas and others that had a history of racial discrimination and disenfranchisement relative to voting—to receive pre-certification, or “pre-clearance,” relative to ANY changes they wanted to make concerning an election that was being held, to make sure they were not discriminating against anyone, especially African Americans.

After the Supreme Court ruling in the Shelby County v. Holder case, the floodgates of racial discrimination opened back up, as states like Texas, instituted new photo-ID laws, reversed diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts, purged voters, passed controversial redistricting maps, and implemented laws to significantly restrict and hamper the ability for citizens to vote.

And now we are witnessing state laws being implemented regarding “so-called” critical race theory, the Supreme Court ruling on student loans, and other matters that impact the quality of life of African Americans in this country. But now, back to the affirmative action decision.

When affirmative action in institutions of higher learning was introduced in 1978, it was not done to make race the primary factor for student admissions—it was designed to merely consider the race of a student applicant as a factor.  The concept of affirmative action, as argued by many opponents, leads one to believe that because a Black student applies, they are automatically granted admission to the college or university because they are Black.  Wrong!!!

Let’s be real…public and private colleges and universities in this country have had a long and troubling track record of discrimination and disenfranchisement as it relates to African Americans.  Why else do you think Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), like Texas Southern University and others, were founded and needed in the first place?

Black students were denied the fair and equal right to a quality higher education opportunity, and thus, HBCUs were formed. For centuries, African Americans were denied access to freedom, a quality education at every level, and the necessary resources to compete at the same level as non-Black people, namely whites. Affirmative action became an important equalizer, as well as a necessary public policy initiative that has helped to address the glaring and realistic racial inequities that have historically existed in the entire system of higher education.  Period!

So, is this truly the beginning of the end for us?  I mean, what’s next?

Will the Supreme Court:

  • Eliminate the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, altogether?
  • Find that states are well within their rights to re-institute Jim Crow Laws?
  • Allow cities and counties to implement legal segregationist policies?
  • Make interracial marriage illegal?
  • Overturn Brown vs. Board of Education?
  • Rule that minority-owned business contracting set-asides are unconstitutional and
  • Discard the practice of public, private, and government entities having programs in place to award contracts to minority-owned businesses?
  • Make it illegal for Black people to read and write again?
  • Reverse the Emancipation Proclamation decision and make us slaves again?

Now, before you start trying to argue with me and tell me that my questions are far-fetched, I need you to keep in mind that at one point in this country, there were policies and legislation needed and implemented to address these different items that I posed as mere questions above.

This was our reality as a people, and we don’t need to go backwards.

It is truly my hope that we, as African Americans, come together and establish a realistic Black agenda, because if we don’t: This may be the beginning of the end for us, as we know it.

The post The Beginning of the End? appeared first on Forward Times.

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