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  • Doug Tjapkes

Jim Crow is alive and well!

This week we remember a terrible incident that occurred in Alabama. Hundreds formed a march to Birmingham hoping to ensure the right of Black people to vote. That was in March, 1965. White cops used vicious dogs and fire hoses to show those folks just who was boss. Not to be outdone in U.S. history books, the State Senate in neighboring Georgia---exactly 50 years later---voted to pass legislation containing a slew of restrictions to suppress voting rights. The House is sure to follow suit soon. Too many Black people voting. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s an avalanche of voter suppression bills being introduced around our country. And believe me, they’re not designed to keep white middle-classed citizens like me from voting! Which begs the question I ask time and again: Just how much progress have we really made in leveling the playing field for people of color? I recently read something in THE MARSHALL PROJECT that prompts my question. Take a look at this: White children were released from juvenile detention at a far higher rate than their Black peers during the early stages of the pandemic, new data reveals. Since the pandemic, younger people of color have also been detained longer in juvenile jails. The racial gap is widening even though teenagers in many jurisdictions were arrested less often in 2020 and incarceration rates for juveniles remain at or near generational lows. That led me to scroll through daily briefings from THE MARSHALL PROJECT to look for any other headlines indicating lack of progress in our treatment of blacks. Well, let’s see. -The Minneapolis trial of a former police officer accused of killing George Floyd last year. -Four stories spinning from the white supremacist attack on the nation’s Capitol. -New York: An officer caught on camera pepper-spraying a Black woman as she held her 3-year-old child. -New York, again: City police commissioner Dermot Shea apologizes for the NYPD’s relentless mistreatment of communities of color. -From the FBI: White supremacists plan to continue to infiltrate law enforcement agencies and the military to gain tactical training. -In Louisiana: A Black sheriff’s deputy died by suicide sitting in his patrol car...distraught, he said, about police violence and racial injustice. -And finally, circling back to Georgia again: Republican lawmakers want to prosecute people for bringing food and water to fellow citizens waiting in line for hours to vote. Dr. Martin Luther King, on August 14, 1957: "We have come a long, long way, but we have a long way to go.

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