Stop the bleaching of Black and Latino voting districts

By Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis
Contributing Commentator

Black Americans once again stand at a critical junction in helping to determine the future of the United States of America, and thereby also the future of the world. Fifty million African Americans, with a spending power of one trillion dollars and millions of potential votes, in the upcoming November 2, 2010 mid-term elections across the nation strategically are well situated to play a major role in determining the outcome of these important elections.

There are some who say that every election should get our attention.

But, it would be a major oversight for us not to see that 2010 will be seen as an evaluative referendum on what happened back in 2008 and a foretaste of what might happen in the 2012 predicted re-election of President Barack H. Obama.

Will the Tea Party be successful this year in its backlash tactics against the Obama administration? Will the jubilance of the election of the first African American president of the United States, two years ago, give way this year to the forces of bigotry and reactionary politics? Will the majority of all Americans be too quick to forget the shameful and disastrous economic condition that President George W. Bush left the country in when he departed the White House in January 2009?

These questions and many more will be answered by the civic action or inaction of African Americans and others who care about the future of America, as we prepare to hopefully have an unprecedented turnout of our votes on or before November 2, 2010.

One of the leading national research bodies, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, D.C., just released a study on the power of the Black vote in America in advance of the fast-approaching mid-term elections.

Dr. David A. Bositis led the study for the Joint Center. He concluded that if there will be a strong turnout of the African American vote, the results of who will be in control of the U.S. Senate and House, as well as 14 different state governorships, will be determined.

Millions of dollars, however, are now being spent to confuse African American voters. One such deceptive ploy is going on once again in the state of Florida with the so-called “Fair Districts” Constitutional Amendments 5 and 6 that will re-determine how voting districts are to be drawn across that state.

There are similar measures on the ballot in the state of California.

These proposals are unfair and will lead to the “bleaching” of voting districts in those states and later in all states.

Of course, this will be a undermining disaster to the Voting Rights Act.

The proposed “whitening” of voting districts has a lot of Black people confused and when we are confused, it can cause a low voter turnout.

In Florida, more than four million dollars has already been spent to promote the “bleaching” of Black and Latino voting districts. Some of my colleagues in the Civil Rights Movement have been unfortunately sucked into supporting these latest tactics of voter suppression and disempowerment of Black political interests and progress.

I stand firmly with Congresswoman Corrine Brown, Congressman John Lewis, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Congressman James Clyburn, and many other members of the Congressional Black Caucus who have publicly spoken out against these regressive and backward ballot initiatives that are designed to undermine and replace the Voting Rights Act with state’s rights constitutional amendments.

We need a large Black voter turnout throughout the nation. Let’s not sit back and watch others dismantle our progress. Our communities deserve better.

Let us not be confused or apathetic. Let’s tell our young voters and our senior voters that the future is in our hands: Vote early and vote strong. Don’t lose hope. Don’t be confused.

Stop the bleaching! Vote for freedom, justice, and equality for all.

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is senior advisor to the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) and president of Education Online Services Corporation.