With every new election cycle, the Latino share of the vote in Texas rises by about 2 percent. If this trend continues, as it almost certainly will, Latinos will eventually dictate the shape of politics in the Lone Star State.
George W. Bush took the Latino vote seriously, both as governor and president. When Republicans reach out to Latino voters they can snare as much as 40% of the vote, enough to win easily in deep-red Texas. This is because the white middle class is overwhelmingly Republican; only 26% of white Texans voted for Barack Obama in 2008, (his fifth worst showing with this demographic behind Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana).
I attended the event described in this Star-Telegram article with my sociologist daughter, Lydia Bean. The day’s most telling quote didn’t make it into the paper. Gilberto Hinojosa, the first Latino Chair of the Texas Democratic Party, told the gathering that after Ann Richards lost the governor’s race to George W. Bush in 1994, Texas Democrats pinned the blame on the defection of conservative to moderate white voters. In consequence, it was decided that winning these people back was the key to electoral success. (more…)
“I understand why people hung people from trees…[I] want to go home and put on my white pointy hat.” Those are the alleged words Denton County felony Prosecutor Cary Piel told his black co-worker Nadiya Williams-Boldware who sued in federal court and was awarded over half million dollars for the discriminatory incident.
After being called a troublemaker by a co-worker, dismissed by her boss—the supervisor happened to be Cary Piel’s wife— and turned away by the Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division, Boldware took her complaints to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The story can be found here.
After the verdict—on Monday, June 22, 2012—Denton County District Attorney Paul Johnson fired the four prosecutors who cost the county the hefty $510,000 penalty: Susan Peil, Cary Peil, John Renz, and Ryan Calvert. Calvert is Cary Peil’s brother-in-law, and Renza was Peil’s partner in court. Read more about the firings here.
No matter how depressing present political realities may be, Democrats look to the future with confidence. By mid-century, they say, America will be a majority-minority nation and that can only help the left.
Jamelle Bouie questions this reasoning on two counts: Republicans could win back the most prosperous sector of the Latino community by returning to the moderate immigration policies of George W. Bush; and, as minorities are absorbed into the affluent mainstream, their resistance to conservative politics will diminish.
In other words, future trends can never be predicted with confidence, especially when we’re gazing 37 years down the road.
This “the future is ours” rhetoric should make genuine reformers cringe. We can’t get locked into the culture war categories of the present hour. Between 1950 and 1970, Democrats and Republicans switched sides on civil rights. It is hard to believe that the Republican Party on display during the primary election season could move to the left on anything; but stranger things have happened in American politics. If public sentiment shifts (as it always does) politicians will shift along with it. Reformers should be trying to nudge both parties in the direction of compassion and common sense, even when it feels silly. Life is full of surprises.
The worst thing that could happen would be for Democrats to eschew the hard work of rethinking the entire progressive narrative because “we are bound to start winning sooner or later”. Democrats have been on the wrong side of plenty of issues in recent memory (think the war on drugs, mass incarceration and the deregulation of the financial sector), and the blue team will continue to get things wrong if they misread the writing on the wall.
The tepid politics of triangulation has been weighed in the balance and found wanting.
Nothing in public life is inevitable. Change is always hard work. Justice demands courage. Patience is a virtue; complacency is not.
If Democrats agree on anything, it’s that they will eventually be on the winning side. The white Americans who tend to vote Republican are shrinking as a percentage of the population while the number of those who lean Democratic—African Americans and other minorities—is rapidly growing. Slightly more than half of American infants are now nonwhite. By 2050, the U.S. population is expected to increase by 117 million people, and the vast majority—82 percent of the 117 million—will be immigrants or the children of immigrants. In a little more than 30 years, the U.S. will be a “majority-minority” country. By 2050, white Americans will no longer be a solid majority but the largest plurality, at 46 percent. African Americans will drop to 12 percent, while Asian Americans will make up 8 percent of the population. The number of Latinos will rise to nearly a third of all Americans. (more…)
Barack Obama’s recent announcement that he favors marriage equality was a game changer.
Nearly 60 percent of African Americans report supporting marriage equality according to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, up a remarkable 20 points from about 40 percent in similar polling earlier this year.
You would have seen a similar shift among white conservatives if, say, Ronald Reagan had suddenly come out for an easing of the war on drugs.
Most of us aren’t at all confident in our grasp of moral issues and tend to take our lead from a small cadre of respected opinion leaders. Obama’s “evolution” on the gay marriage issue won’t impact Tea Party types because, in their eyes, the president doesn’t qualify as an opinion leader.
There is an odd dance, of course, between opinion leaders and the constituencies they influence. If you get too far ahead of the parade, you may glance over your shoulder and notice that no one is following. But gay marriage, as an issue, has finally come of age and when that happens, public opinion can shift quickly.
I find it interesting that only two NAACP board members objected to the group’s decision to endorse the principle of marriage equality since the Black church has traditionally taken a conservative stance on the issue.
But, as Pastor Amos C. Brown notes in this article from the Associated Baptist Press, the perception that some on the right hoped to use the gay marriage issue to win support among African-Americans played a large role in the sudden shift in Black opinion. It is one thing to be disappointed in your president; it is something else altogether to vote for the opposition. You may be screaming mad at the quarterback; but cheering for the other team is out of the question.
People of color tend to empathize with the GLBT community for the same reason American Jews were disproportionately supportive of the civil rights movement; they’ve seen this movie before.
The NAACP voted overwhelmingly May 19 to oppose “any national, state, local policy or legislative initiative that seeks to codify discrimination or hatred into the law or to remove the Constitutional rights of LGBT citizens.”
By Bob Allen
Associated Baptist Press
A Baptist minister and board member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said May 26 it would have been hypocritical for the 103-year-old civil-rights organization not to pass its recent resolution supporting marriage equality.
Amos C. Brown, pastor of Third Baptist Church in San Francisco and president of the city’s local NAACP branch, is a member of the organization’s national board of directors, which voted May 19 to oppose “any national, state, local policy or legislative initiative that seeks to codify discrimination or hatred into the law or to remove the Constitutional rights of LGBT citizens.” (more…)
Peter Laarman speaks what every honest historian knows to be true: America was founded by white Protestant males for white Protestant males. The conservative movement has made modified this stance in modest ways, but the older view has never been repudiated–you just can’t talk about it in public anymore. So what happens to these United States white folks no longer form a majority of the population?
We may be a long way from finding out. In Texas, white folks will no longer comprise a majority of eligible voters by 2020, but since Texas Democrats refuse to celebrate their party’s diversity (for fear of offending white voters) it could be a long time before theoretical electoral advantages translate into electoral power.
Nationally, the shift will take longer still. Laarman reminds us that white babies are now in the minority, but, at 59, I likely won’t live to see the day when the American population (cradle to grave) is less that 50% white, and I certainly won’t be around to celebrate when the majority of voters become non-white.
In states like California, Arizona and Miami, the Hispanic vote can no longer be ignored by either major party. But money talks in politics and in 2050 the big money will still be controlled by the white tribe. Prosperous people understand the importance of voting and can always be counted on to vote their interests. (more…)
This is a story about the limits of free speech on the internet, but it is goes much deeper than that. This is also about what happens when a small town defense attorney challenges the local power structure.
Vergil Richardson, a basketball coach in nearby Texarkana, lost his job the moment charges were filed. He hired Mark Lesher, a local attorney with a reputation for independent judgment, to represent him.
The following year, Robert Bridges, the man responsible for arresting the Richardsons, made a run for sheriff. Mark and Rhonda Lesher supported Bridges’ opponent, Royce Abbot, and used the Richardson raid as an example of the cowboy tactics routinely employed by Bridges and the rest of the local law enforcement establishment.
That’s when the nasty emails began to appear on Red River County’s Topix site. The Leshers were accused of every low down, nasty deed imaginable. The message was simple: Do you want to vote for Royce Abbott, the man who pals around with drug-dealing rapists?
The tactic was as successful as it was vicious; Bridges won the election.
The Richardsons were vindicated almost exactly three years after their ordeal began. The delay was created when Judge John Miller, a close friend of County Attorney Val Varley, refused to recuse himself from the case. Only when the Texas Attorney General’s Office took over the prosecution from Mr. Varley was Miller forced to step aside. Eventually, an obvious injustice was belatedly averted. (more…)
Richard Land, the voice of the Southern Baptist Convention, is in hot water over a recent rant against the Black pastors in connection with the Trayvon Martin story. Land’s comments have angered Baptists like Arlington’s William Dwight McKissic as much for what they implied as for what was clearly stated.
I am not a great fan of Richard Land, but If Mr. McKissic thinks what Richard Land said was racist then this is going to knock his socks off.
Richard Land spoke the truth originally although he has back peddled because of pressure. For that I do fault him. The truth is that if the black community would start training their children to live a productive moral godly lives instead of what a large percentage become and stop living in the past using the race cards this nation could heal a lot faster. Blacks make up about 13.6 percent of the population but about 40.2 percent of those in prison are black. The problem is with the black community not racism and it is way past time for the black pastors to start dealing with it in their congregation as well as communities instead of pointing fingers.
How many Black parents would have to quit their lowdown ways before Black pastors get the right to address racial injustice? If, say, the teen birth rate dropped by 15 percentage points, would that do it? Or are Black pastors relegated to the social sidelines until Black and White incarceration rates are the same?
This argument is of ancient origin. Slaves shouldn’t be freed because most of them can’t read and write and lack experience handling money. Jim Crow laws should remain in force because crime rates in the Ghetto are higher than the national average.
Now the mass incarceration of young Black males precludes Black Southern Baptists from questioning their White betters.
This was the kind of logic that put Tulia, Texas on the map. It didn’t really matter whether undercover agent Tom Coleman was telling the truth, if his targets had kids outside of marriage they forfeited their civil rights.
Tragically, this Alice in Wonderland logic drives the criminal justice system. It is also one of the big reasons why the Black incarceration numbers are so skewed and why so many of the men and women exonerated by DNA evidence are African-American.
This morning I had coffee with Anthony Graves, a Texan who spent 18 years in prison, twelve on death row, for a crime he didn’t commit. The indignities didn’t end when Graves stepped back into the free world. The following is from a Houston Chronicle article published a year ago:
After he was freed in October, the Texas comptroller’s office refused the compensation provided by law for those who are unjustly convicted.
Then the Texas Attorney General’s Office began garnisheeing his wages for child support that a judge decided Graves owed even though he was on death row at the time. But when they blocked payment of the $250 fee he earned for a presentation to students at Prairie View A&M University, it was too much.
Graves’ attorney accused Texas AG Greg Abbott of being a vindictive monster. Maybe so. But Abbott had little reason to fear a public backlash. Most influential Texans think a lot like Gerald Schumacher, the guy who thinks Dwight McKissic should go mute on racial justice until every Black parent has his or her act together.
Fortunately, the Schumacher doctrine doesn’t always win out. Anthony Graves finally received restitution money for his near-death experience, the Tulia drug bust was overturned, and, massive White support notwithstanding, Richard Land still has some ‘splainin’ to do.
I recently heard Heather McGhee speak at the Samuel Dewitt Proctor conference in Chicago. She began with the obvious fact that America was not created to be one people, or one public. Some folks were clearly part of the culture; others were not. The primary dividing line was skin color. Up until 1965, she reminded us, American immigration policy was built around strict racial quotas. People of African descent were practically excluded altogether. People from Eastern Europe were also subject to severe restrictions because they were considered ‘ethnic’.
That all changed in 1965. In the wake of the civil rights movement, mainstream America was embarrassed by the undisguised racism implicit in the nation’s immigration policy. The rules changed in fundamental ways. Now, when you walk through an airport, you see every conceivable shade of skin color and you hear a wide variety of accents. We have become, in a few brief decades, the world’s most audacious experiment in cultural diversity.
I received a copy of Darren Dochuk’s From Bible Belt to Sun Belt as a birthday present from my daughter, Dr. Lydia Bean. She said I’d love it, and she was right.
Like me, Dochuk hails from Edmonton, Alberta, and, like me, his doctoral dissertation focused on Southern religion. But while I was primarily interested in progressive Christians struggling for social survival in the Deep South, Dochuk turned his attention to evangelicals from states like Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas who migrated in droves to southern California between the dust bowl thirties to the post-war period when the counties surrounding Los Angeles were booming as a result of massive government spending on military and aeronautical projects.
As a child, Darren Dochuk was driven to the vacation spots of Southern California every summer. I dreamed of visiting Disneyland, but I never got there. Still, the brand of Christian Right spirituality described in his book impacted my life in significant, sometimes painful ways. The California-inspired Jesus People movement was in full flower when I attended the Baptist Leadership Training School in 1972. It was around that time that my traditionally Baptist parents were attracted to the charismatic movement. My father repeatedly invited me to luncheon meetings of the Full Gospel Business Men’s International, a loose affiliation of tongue-speaking, prophesying, faith healing neo-Pentecostals founded in Southern California by a layman named Demos Shakarian.
For me, these were bewildering experiences I had largely forgotten until I read From Bible Belt to Sun Belt. Though I never understood the appeal of this style of religion, my parents informed me that my life would be transformed if I submitted to “the baptism” and received the “gift of tongues.” I tried my best, but it didn’t take. (more…)
In a recent episode of Fresh Air on NPR, Dave Davies interviews attorney and author Michelle Alexander. In her book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Alexander argues that, as a result of the war on drugs, the U.S. has created a system of mass incarceration which disproportionately targets people of color.
“The war on drugs,” Alexander states, “was part of a grand Republican Party strategy, known as the Southern Strategy, of using racially coded get-tough appeals on issues of crime and welfare to appeal to poor and working-class whites, particularly in the South, who were resentful of, anxious about, threatened by many of the gains of African-Americans in the civil rights movement.”
The “wave of punitiveness” and get-tough policies that followed the declaration of the war on drugs had an incredible impact on communities of color. Although African-Americans make up about 13% of the general population, they make up nearly 40% of the prison population. “In major American cities today,” Alexander points out, “more than half of working-age African-American men either are under are correctional control or are branded felons.” (more…)