Page 5 - Florida Sentinel 5-3-16 Online Edition
P. 5

Slavery, Jim Crow, And Ex-Felon Voting Rights
e have always wondered about America’s hypocrisy
when its treatment of ex-felons is considered. For all intents and purposes, ex-felons seem never to complete their “debt to society,” even though they serve their sen- tences; are no longer on parole or probation, and attempt to return to society.
Indeed, finding stable and suitable employment eludes most of them and regaining their right to vote takes years after they are no longer wards of the state.
Perhaps, these are two of the reasons why 52 percent of released prisoners return to prison and 68 percent of them are re-arrested for a new crime within three years of re- lease, not to mention the fact that 77 percent are arrested within five years, according to the Bureau of Justice statis- tics.
Studies reveal that restoring voting rights to ex-felons re- duces the likelihood of their ever returning to prison.
Eleven states permanently disenfranchise ex-felons while states like Florida make rules so difficult that ex- felons could “pass through the eye of a needle” quicker than they could get their voting rights restored.
We applaud Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe for using his executive power to restore the voting rights of more than 200,000 convicted felons in his state, most of whom are Black. We certainly hope other governors will consider put- ting an end to disenfranchising ex-felons. After all, how long do we expect them to continue being punished after they have served their sentences?
More than likely, for the same reason we hate to hear people referring to the Perry Harvey, Sr. Park skate- boarding facility as the “BRO-BOWL,” we despise every time
we hear Donald Trump refer to us as “THE BLACKS,” as if we were a disease or something. With that said, now let us launch into what the Huffington Post suggests and we have adopted as “8 Reasons Donald Trump Would Not be Great For (so-called) ‘Blacks.’”
Reason #One: He was once sued by the Justice Depart- ment for racial discrimination. In 1973 . . . check it out... when Trump served as president of Trump Management Corporation he refused to rent apartments to Black people.
Reason #Two: He published a racially-charged full page newspaper ad for the return of the death penalty in New York in response to five Black teenagers who were later proved not guilty of murder.
Reason #Three: He believes in his heart that Black people are lazy. Ask former Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino president John R. O’Donnell who heard Trump say, “Lazi- ness is a trait in Blacks.”
Then there’s Reason #Four. He also thinks educated Black folks are more privileged than white people. Says El Don, “I would love to be a well-educated Black, because I be- lieve they do have an actual advantage” (over white people).
Reason #Five: He hates the Black Lives Matter Move- ment. About them, his off - color comments are legion.
Reason #Six: He has yet to chastise any of his supporters for racism (that includes former KKK’er David Duke).
Reason #Seven: Unleashing a savage tweet-attack on President Obama, he ends it with this statement, “Because he has done such a poor job as president, you won’t see an- other Black President for generations.”
And finally, Reason #Eight: Since millions of Black Americans are Muslim, Latino or both, Trump’s tirades against either group would also be a slap at Black people.
We could continue. But you get the message.
A researcher stated...“the dis- enfranchisement of people who have served their prison sen- tences is an outdated discrimina- tion vestige of our nation’s Jim Crow past.” Nearly six million Americans, one in five Black peo- ple and one in every 56 non-Black people, are denied the right to vote because they are ex-felons or have committed misdemeanors.
Thus, when Virginia Gover- nor Terry McAuliffe issued an executive order that restored the rights of ex-felons to vote, he freed 200,000 ex-felons from Virginia’s harsh restrictions that had permanently barred them from voting. In fact, Virginia had been listed among the only four states (Kentucky, Florida, Iowa, and Virginia) that had perma- nently barred ex-felons from vot- ing.
Governor McAuliffe, who had already extended voting rights to 18,000 of Virginia’s ex- felons, also restored ex-felons’ rights to serve on juries, to run for office, and to become notary publics. The order also applied to ex-felons convicted in other states and living in Virginia.
The practice of disenfranchis- ing ex-felons began as a post-civil War provision in states’ constitu- tions aimed at disenfranchising Black people and continues today perhaps, more for political rea-
For several weeks now presi- dential candidate Hillary Clin- ton has been catching some serious flak about a comment she made 20 years ago when she re- ferred to young Black male crimi- nals as “super-predators” as a way of justifying her husband’s (Pres- ident Bill Clinton) implemen- tation of harsher sentencing guidelines.
The thing is while I never sup- ported the policy and have never been a big fan of the Clintons, in this particular instance, I can’t re- ally say she said anything wrong.
I guess, because the term came from the lips of a white person, it was deemed inappropriate and slightly racist. But as uncomfort- ableasitmaybeformanyofusto accept, the fact of the matter is that, she wasn’t lying.
When you look up the word predator in the dictionary it is de- fined as one that preys, destroys or devours; Any species that hunts and feeds off another as a source of sustenance. Drug dealers who make a living off of the hopelessly addicted, individuals who bur- glarize the homes of their neigh- bors and those who rob, steal and kill all fit that description.
We can play with semantics all we want and come up with a mil-
sons than for punitive reasons. Regarding Virginia’s law, enacted in 1830, one of the state’s early 19th century senators, Carter Glass, was quoted as saying that the act “will eliminate the darkey as a political factor in this state in less than five years so that in no single county in the Common- wealth of Virginia will there be the least concern felt for the com- plete supremacy of the white race in the affairs of government.”
According to Dr. Susan Greenbaum, Professor Emeri- tus of Anthropology at the Uni- versity of South Florida, who conducted research on restoring the rights to vote for ex-felons, “the right to vote has a long and dark history. Although felons were prevented from voting in most states from the very begin- ning of the Republic, after the Civil War, these laws were greatly expanded in the South and virtu- ally all felons in those states were Black... The South’s loss of the Civil War found former slave owners with dual dilemmas... the liberation of their slave laborers and the slave laborers having the right to vote.
Soon after the withdrawal of federal troops from the South in 1877, former slave owners imple- mented a system of convict leas- ing and felon disenfranchise- ment. At first, massive numbers
lion and one excuses for the indi- viduals who engage in this type of behavior but, the truth is, our worse enemies tend to mirror our own reflections.
I mean, let’s be real. When someone typically calls 9-1-1 to re- port a shooting or robbery in a Black neighborhood the culprit is very seldom some random white guy. The days of the Ku Klux Klan terrorizing Black communities have long been gone. Most of the members of that organization re- tired their hoods and robes be- cause they found someone else who could do their job even bet- ter.... Us.
Of course there’s always room to blame societal ills and ex- tremely hard luck for some of the criminalistic behavior we witness. But, for every person who com- mits a crime in order to eat, there are nine others who do the same thing just for the joy of spending money in a strip club or the ability to purchase a larger set of car rims.
I know it’s hard to visualize your own in such a negative light. But it also does no good for us to continue living in denial.
You don’t get mad at a doctor for pointing out that you have cancer. You find a way to get rid of
of Black Americans were arrested for little or no reason and were sent to work in mines, mills, and fields. The system created an al- most limitless supply of free labor, and these ex-felons were then forever denied the right to vote.”
Because racism and the his- tory of social and economic bar- riers in Black communities, Black people continue to enter the American prison system in great numbers and are overwhelmingly over represented in the prison system.
Today, Black corrections in- mates comprise more than 50% of the American prison popula- tion and if able to vote would greatly increase Black voter strength.
Obviously, Republicans, who tend to resist restoring ex-felons’ voting rights, are aware of this fact and are also aware that the majority of Black ex-felons will more likely register as Democ- rats.
In fact, there are several states, including Florida, where Republican governors have re- scinded the voting rights of ex- felons that were granted by Democratic predecessors.
We believe Governor McAuliffe was right when he stated, “People have served their time and done their probation. I want you back in society. I want you feeling good about yourself. I want you voting, getting a job, paying taxes...”
By the way, the majority of Americans (51% Democrats and 53% Republicans) also believe ex- felons should be allowed to vote after they have been released from prison. Even more impor- tant than a source of extra votes, it is the right and human thing to do. Harrambee.
the tumor.
When Clinton used the term
“super predator,” she was voicing the concerns of the Black pastors, mayors, police chiefs and other politicians who went screaming to the government for help in the midst of a vicious crime wave.
Now that the help they re- ceived effectively locked up an en- tire generation in the process, those same individuals are plead- ing for the dogs to be called off be- cause the measures that were taken have gone too far.
Unfortunately, this is what usually happens when you hire someone else to clean up your mess. The individuals you bring in don’t know what to throw away or what to keep. So, to be on the safe side, they toss everything into the trash.
A bulk of the individuals who helped to cause the explosion of prison populations across the country are a direct result of our own neglect. These so-called “super predators” are nothing more than the monsters we cre- ated through piss-poor parenting, a lack of community cohesiveness and sorry leaders who talk a great game but who are deathly afraid to get their hands dirty.
We can get upset with the per- ception others have of us all we want. But until we get our act to- gether and somehow figure out a solution for our own problems, going forward, being saddled with an unflattering label for our youth will be the least of our worries.
Reality On Ice is © by the Florida Sentinel Bulletin Publishing Company.
Sometimes The Truth Hurts
Eight Bones To Pick With Donald Trump (Make It Nine)!
Ex-Felons Deserve Justice

   3   4   5   6   7