by Renee J. Turner

The 2008 presidential election, etched in American history, where 65 percent of eligible African-American voters cast ballots along with 2 million more Hispanics and 600,000 Asians who turned out. Soon after coining the phrase “post-racial society,” as if an historical milepost from its beginning destination—the Civil Rights Movement. Whether considered an affirmation or a turning point, it reflects the obvious that there is nothing that African Americans can’t achieve. Of course, there are numerous opposing arguments over whether or not the phrase has true historical significances. But what we can say is that it has exposed the ideology, structure and systemic practice of racism at the highest level of government that has never been witnessed before.

Has this new era of racism reached the height of its boiling point? When deconstructed is a new form of blatancy that is the heart and soul of racism. Its engineers demonstrating a devoted sense of conviction that some were willing to shut this country down at all cost to keep an African American from serving a second term. Illustrating that we are still heavily divided and challenging African-American voters in a number of ways.

As voters, we have to focus attention on issues that impact our nation and our community. What we’ve seen with the foreclosure crisis quietly started as a target for certain groups of people for sub-prime mortgages. Yet, it has impacted the entire nation creating a domino effect. Or, the systemic introduction of restrictive voter ID laws throughout the country. Showing us that at the core of restrictive voting is a type of class warfare taking place. A strong statement that has pitted parties with a stance of protecting the rich on one side and not allowing that to be at the expense of the poor or middle class on the other, which created a stalemate that could possibly be irreversible in this “post-racial society”. Whether it is structured racism with class as its foundation or a class infrastructure with racism as its support mechanism, we are up against frightening scenarios that could possibly materialize if more people are not involved in combating it. This year, there are 33 Senate seats (10 Republican and 23 Democratic), 435 House seats (240 Republican and 195 Democratic), and 13 governorships up for grabs.

The challenge that we each can make ourselves as registered voters is to make a plea to get at least one eligible non-registered person to register and vote. Attempts at voter suppression will only increase and not decrease in this country for years to come. Requiring voter identification, orchestrated by the GOP, is nothing short of requiring the guessing of the number of jelly beans in a jar to be able to vote. While we are having voter registration drives in this country, restrictions are also beginning to be placed on the groups that register people to vote. Consider what could happen if each individual voter got another non-registered eligible individual to register and vote throughout this country. Creating a movement that can’t be suppressed if we each make a commitment to talk to at least one other person. We have to vote in this country—voter ID requirements or not. We can give some credit to the GOP in their determination and strong-armed tactics, where they will not stop—until. Remember, voter ID initially looked as if it were dead at some point early on here in Georgia. After which, through persistence it became law. In politics, one can argue that no never means no.

Though statistics vary, we can’t ignore the claims. If there were 65 percent of African Americans who voted in 2008, 35 percent of those registered did not vote. We have to reach out to that 35 percent (while it is also said that the number of black and Hispanic voters has dropped since 2008). It has also been cited that 37 percent, or 8 million African Americans are not registered. As an appeal, each individual voter has control over helping make Dr. King’s dream materialize by also reaching out to those eligible that are not registered. Voter registration deadline in Georgia is October 9th. Check the website for voter ID requirements. We can create a voter movement knowing that there’s too much at stake not to. Renee J. Turner is a writer and has written articles on voting and voter registration here in Atlanta, GA.

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