Feb 28, 2013

Last night I thought I would go to bed early.  Nothing was on tv worth watching.  I try not to watch anything heavy before I go to bed because it is easier to rest without having a heavy heart and mind.  I thought maybe I would get a quick glimpse of what Rachel Maddow was talking about and then get myself ready for bed.  I did not expect to be glued to the seat watching her opening commentary about the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and how the constitutionality of  key provisions are now being questioned before the Supreme Court. I was aware of the day's events and it is a case that I intend to follow closely.  The implications of overturning Section 5 of VRA are quite sobering.  By no means had I planned to ignore the case. I just did not expect to have a "moment" last night before I went to bed.

She showed historical footage of Bloody Sunday in Selma which was the catalyst for VRA.  After her opening segment, she interviewed the face of Bloody Sunday, Congressman John Lewis.  Whenever he speaks, I listen.  So many of the widely known civil rights leaders have passed on, but John Lewis is still here.  I am so glad he is.  Although many of our parents and grandparents lived through the horror Jim Crow and unapologetic discrimination, Congressman Lewis has a national platform to speak from.  He reminds us that this is not ancient history nor even a distant memory.  After watching both segments, my heart got heavy as it should have.

At best, overturning Section 5 means the Court is delusional thinking the country is further along that it actually is. On the other hand, overturning the law could also mean that the Court is just plain callous.  I should say some members of the Court are just plain callous specifically Justice Scalia.  His whole disposition reminds me of a spoiled brat.  It is unbelievable and beyond offensive that he sees the provisions of VRA as "racial entitlement."  My heart got heavy because I started to visualize things getting worse.  What we experienced just a few short months ago in the 2012 election is evidence enough that not only should Section 5 be upheld but it should be expanded to every state. My heart got heavy because as much as people want to believe the best in others, I know that people will openly, defiantly and legally cheat the system.  They will go to the very edge of the law and even break the law.  My heart got heavy because people want to think that Jim Crow, poll taxes, discrimination, and voter intimidation are ancient history when in fact is not even a distant memory and thus this key provision as unnecessary.  My heart got heavy thinking of the saying, "those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it."  Do we have the people power to force this obstinate Congress to enact a more expansive law should the current one be struck down?  My heart got heavy because hope, thinking that we would have another Affordable Care Act ruling, started to give way to cynicism thinking that Justice Roberts saved up for the "big one." 

I sat on the edge of my bed trying to get some level of peace before going to sleep.  I thought about the words of Dr. King, "the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice."  I looked up to heaven and prayed, "God do Your thing because this ain't right."  God doing His thing also means we have to do our part.  My heart did not become any less heavy and quite frankly in this case, it probably shouldn't. That heaviness should spur me to action. If those before me can handle violence, I can stand to be uncomfortable for a little while.  With the way our nation is going, I'm starting to think that my generation will start to get a taste of what it means to truly take a stand because if we don't...well I just can't bear the thought...

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