Jim Crow 2.0

Affirmative action has been part of our social and political landscape for over fifty years now, ever since JFK signed an executive order in 1961 that called for  “affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.” Four years later, President Johnson took it even further when he stated:

Nothing is more freighted with meaning for our own destiny than the revolution of the Negro American…In far too many ways American Negroes have been another nation: deprived of freedom, crippled by hatred, the doors of opportunity closed to hope…But freedom is not enough. You do not wipe away the scars of centuries by saying: Now you are free to go where you want, and do as you desire, and choose the leaders you please. You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, ‘you are free to compete with all the others,’ and still justly believe that you have been completely fair…This is the next and the more profound stage of the battle for civil rights. We seek not just freedom but opportunity. We seek not just legal equity but human ability, not just equality as a right and a theory but equality as a fact and equality as a result…To this end equal opportunity is essential, but not enough, not enough.

So here we are, trudging through another presidential election cycle, and as always, Republicans have begun to talk about the inequality of affirmative action. They call it “preferential treatment.” They inspire students to sue colleges over it. They claim that it’s no longer necessary in an America willing to elect a black president. They say that the United States can never be a country based on equality as long as we continue to offer a leg up to a part of our population. They’re right!

At least they’re right about one thing. Our country will never be looked at as a land of equal opportunity as long as we need to level the playing field for those of us who have been historically disenfranchised. However, that is not the same thing as no longer needing affirmative action.

Go into any major U.S. city with a large minority population, then find and walk through the worse neighborhoods in that city, and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Just because we have a black president does not mean all things are now equal.

On the contrary, a recent report by the hate watchdog group, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) shows that the number of hate groups in the U.S. is still growing, and have been since 2000. We are still incarcerating more and more people, except in states stretched thin by overcrowding, and 70% of inmates are nonwhite. And while whites make up the total majority of welfare recipients, minorities, especially blacks, receive benefits disproportional to their total percentage of population. If you believe the bullshit coming from the mouths of GOP presidential wannabes like Gingrich and Santorum, blacks are the only ones on welfare.

Anyway, it’s been fifty years. Everything’s cool now, right? And if all things aren’t equal, yet, than that just goes to show that affirmative action is a failed experiment that needs to end. Maybe niggers & spics just can never measure up to whites, and there’s nothing that can be done about it.

That may very well have been true if the haters hadn’t been fighting against it so hard for all that time. For every step we’ve taken up the ladder, opponents have tried to hold us back, if not tried to knock the ladder over, altogether. And proponents haven’t helped much. For decades, their solution was to just throw money at us. My mother, perhaps the last of Welfare Queens, learned how to work the system so well that she didn’t need to try to get a legitimate job until Clinton was forced to fix it. For all their help, they made us dependent on government handouts and mandates. Worse, they made it easy for working class whites, the malleable minds that the right wing loves to turn against us, hate us even more.

So, when will it be safe to do away with affirmative action? When will the playing field actually be equal? We have a long way to go, people. We still have to switch the focus of our drug policy to treatment, as opposed to punishment. Just legalizing marijuana will go a long way to keeping many of us out of jail. We have to have programs that keep our children in school, voluntarily. Forcing children to go to school does nothing but reinforce their hatred of it. Even if we did all that tomorrow little would change, right away. Remember all those brothers and sisters in jail? How can we make sure that when they finally get out, they stay out?

And let’s not forget that there are plenty of people out there who don’t ever want things to be equal. For them, this country should be run exclusively by white conservative Christian men. Jails are good because they keep niggers & spics from voting, sometimes even for years after being released. And the trend of privatizing prisons is still growing, with one company, Corrections Corporation of America forcing governors to sign agreements to keep prison at least 90% full. Laws passed recently in many states requiring voters to show ID are done with the knowledge that those laws will disproportionately affect minorities and the poor. Even those tough immigration laws are designed to make sure that white conservative Christian males can remain in power.

Listen to the GOP presidential wannabes for a bit, and a few even want to get rid of public schools. Why? So that all our children have to either settle for a subpar education or be forced to go to religious schools where they can be better indoctrinated. You can either do things their way if you want to succeed, or you can look forward to working for them at minimal wages. Or waste your life away behind bars. Either way, it’s about control. That’s what Jim Crow was about: control. The only thing that’s changed are the strategies to keep us down. Oh, and we can still shit in their toilets.

Welcome to the new Jim Crow.

Herman Cain: The Great Black Dope

Herman Cain, Godfather’s Pizza magnate and wannabe Republican Presidential nominee, continues to fight his way past all the rest of the other hot-then-not candidates like Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry. After a strong start (He was declared the informal winner of an early debate back in May), Cain fell to the back of the pack when other, better-known, wannabes announced their own candidacies. Now, as the flaws of most of the other Johnny/Janey-come-latelies have become painfully apparent, Cain’s stock as a potential candidate has risen, like overly yeasty pizza dough, yet again.

Late last month, Cain won the “Florida GOP Presidency 5 Straw Poll.” He not only won, he beat the pants off everyone else in the field. Garnering 37% of the vote, Cain’s closest competitor, Rick Perry, only got about 15% of the votes. Mitt Romney, the Stormin’ Mormon that most think will eventually win the Republican nomination, if he can ever convince the TEA Partiers that he’s not a Socialist like Obama, came in 3rd with just 14%. Since then, he’s won three out of the next four straw polls with respectable showings in the two he didn’t win. The most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll also has Cain out front. This all begs the obvious question: Is a Herman Cain Presidency a possibility?

In a word: NO. First of all, I doubt he can beat Romney. Sure, Romney has his problems with the TEA Partiers, particularly since he’s the most centrist of the Republican hopefuls. However, when it comes down to it, I think they will vote like most people vote today, for the lesser of two evils, or in this case, for someone who has a shot at defeating Obama.

But let’s use our imaginations for a moment. Let’s imagine, if you will, that southern, former Dixiecrats-turned-Republicans can get over their fear and hatred of colored folk just long enough to pull the lever with Cain’s name next to it, what then?

Most folx think Herman Cain can’t win in a general election. His support of the Defense of Marriage Act, defunding Planned Parenthood, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and ending Affirmative Action place him firmly in the Right Wing. His belief that Muslims have “an objective to convert all infidels or kill them” places him deeply amongst the Right Wingnuts.  And then there’s his reply to a question about the Occupy Wall Street protesters: “Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks, if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself.”

Right. After you’ve paid all that money for your college education—or more likely, owe all that money for your education—get a job delivering pizzas for Godfather’s. With your degree, you’ll be fast-tracked for management. Pizza is the American Dream in neat, tasty slices. Don’t burn your mouth.

If Hermie has any mainstream appeal at all, it’s all wrapped up in his 9-9-9 tax reform plan. In case you, like most folx I know, don’t pay attention to all of this politics bullshit, Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan would “simplify” how Americans pay taxes by eliminating the current code and replacing it with an across the board 9% income tax rate for workers, 9% rate for corporations and a 9% federal sales tax. Even I admit, on it’s face, such a tax plan sounds appealing. I’ll take a large 9-9-9 with pepperoni, please.

But wait. If you dig a bit you will find that this new 9% tax rate applies to everyone. No exceptions. That means that all those working class folk who barely make enough to survive and rely on that tax refund check once a year will no longer get it. Too poor? Too bad! Say goodbye, as well, to that great equal equalizer for working class people with children, the Earned Income Credit.

Dig a little deeper and you will find that Hermie’s new sales tax is not just for hard goods, but for ALL goods. That includes food, people. That means that it doesn’t matter how hard you have to work that slave wage job to put food on your family’s table, it will cost you an extra $9.00 for every $100 you spend. I don’t know about you, but with food prices going up, I CAN’T AFFORD TO PAY MORE.

What of the middle class?  A family of four living off $50,000 a year currently pays about $3400 in federal income tax. Under the 9-9-9 plan, once you calculate all the lost deductions and add in about $2000 in sales taxes based on average annual spending, that same family will end up paying about $6500 per year. That means the average middle class family’s taxes would nearly double.

And lest you think that this tax will hit the rich harder  because they buy more shit that the rest of us, think about this. The typical mark-up on high-end goods is 100%. That means that if some rich dude buys a yacht for $200,000, that yacht probably cost $100,000 to produce. That’s a lot of wiggle room. If you were in the yacht sales business, wouldn’t you just reduce the price down by about $16,000 to make up for the 9% tax? I would.

The Bottom Line is simple, people: Herman Cain is a nonstarter. Even if he can pull out a win in his own party, I wouldn’t give him a second look. It doesn’t matter how many meaty toppings you put on a pizza. If the crust sucks, than the whole pie is bound to taste like shit.