So last night we had a bit of a chuckle at the expense of a hapless boob from Maine who is the chairman of the state Republican party. After the laughter subsided, I said this:
What I will say is that this fits neatly with the larger Republican narrative from this last election cycle: that black people voting is suspect for fraud. That black people have to provide additional proof that they are indeed qualified to vote. In the old days, this was done through explicit policies like poll taxes and “literacy tests”. Today it’s done through barely-covert policies like “voter ID” that is designed to suppress the votes of not only black people, but pretty much anyone who would vote for a Democratic candidate. This is not a new story, and it is part of the attempt to erase people of colour from the collective consciousness, or at least to deny them (us) the possibility of equal partnership and participation. This story is not new, and it’s not just chuckle-fucks like Charlie Webster who are behind it.
And I wasn’t kidding either:
The hilarious part about this video is the man’s attempt to explain his reasoning – that because when he goes to the mall he doesn’t notice that many black people, therefore the numbers are suspicious. Considering that we’ve established that pretty much nobody has an accurate estimation of how many people of various races there are in America, it’s probably not a good idea to try and extrapolate population demographics from personal experience.
There are more details to the story that are worth checking out:
Law enforcement and poll workers in other Colorado counties had already harassed Latino canvassers and early voters. And on Election Day, Arapahoe County voters experienced very long lines, and rumors began to emerge about possible voter challengers.
The fact remains though that these stories are a poignant reminder that the term “white supremacy” does not refer simply to hooded men burning crosses and giving fascist salutes. The fact is that the idea of the illegitimacy of black citizenship is deeply rooted in the American story. Thus, black people participating in the electoral process, especially as (gasp!) candidates, is something that just does not sit comfortably. It is like a gold tooth on a panhandler - something seems odd and requires an explanation, the more nefarious the better.
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