I’ve watched the various news coverage about voter ID laws, yet no one can seem to state the real issue with voter ID and black voting. I will quickly explain here why voter ID is an issue with Black America.
The most common explanation for black people’s opposition to voter ID is that the older and less capable of dealing with the complications of getting it will lose their ability to vote. While this is true, it is not the main reason.
America’s institutions are hostile towards black people. Every one of its agencies has been used offensively against us. Black people calling the police has often resulted in the caller going to jail themselves. Filing for unemployment results in the government using one’s benefits to pay off outstanding debts; many of these debts are collection fees from traffic citations given by the government agency in the last example. Even Affirmative Action, which isn’t a law specifically for black people, rather it, “prohibits discrimination by covered employers on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” While Affirmative Action is actually a law for all minorities, white men hate black people for it; you don’t hear many debates about unqualified white women taking the place of more qualified white men, it’s always about lesser qualified black people being given advantage over more qualified white guys; everyone tends to focus their opposition on black people, which was an intentional downside to government’s effort to hide the optics of racial discrimination in America.
If there’s one phrase from law enforcement that makes my hair stand up, it is “let me see some ID.” This phrase means the hostile and powerful person asking is about to find out who you are, where you live and if you have any issues with the government like warrants or past arrests. To think that poll workers will be asking the same thing just creates another barrier to voting because of our experience with the government. They also want to take our pictures; the reason for our reluctance toward this should be obvious. With the mug shots that pop up on the news when describing black men accused of crimes, the last thing we want is government to have another picture of us to exploit. Voter ID is a total intimidation effort by Conservatives meant to increase reluctance towards black Americans exercising their Constitutional right.
Anytime we give our information to the government, we feel we are creating a new means of that government targeting us. Giving our address to the County Registrar means the police know where to arrest us. Being that police regularly create means of violating our Constitutional rights, we don’t feel protected enough by the Constitution to relinquish the most effective means of avoiding government persecution, hiding.
A perfect comparison many conservatives may understand is gun registration. Many white gun owners are opposed to establishing a State or Federal gun registry because they know those same records will be used to collect guns if lawmakers later legislate them as illegal. They want their guns to be as illusive as possible just like black people would like their identities to be. Conservatives know we are frightened by government and every call for voter ID is the same as saying we have to go through the hostile government if we want to vote. Conservatives go to their base and insinuate that we are too lazy and incompetent to navigate a voter ID system. No! They are placing the same government that racially profiles us between us and what is supposed to be our Constitutional right.
Voter ID has been a political football forever and politicians use it more for its political capital than as a real means of fixing a problem. So here’s my compromise:
- Resolve all outstanding legal matters conclusively and absolve everyone’s arrest warrants; eliminate the legal jeopardy that keeps much of black America skittish towards our government. The biggest concern with black people is the Government finding out where they live and arresting them. Courts should rescind all warrants and absolve all outstanding government debts from traffic tickets, misdemeanor crimes and some felonies. This sounds extreme but if conservatives want voter ID, they have to sacrifice something. Conservatives love having the ability to keep black people in terror. Most of that terror is undeserved and is solely due to lack of money; many don’t pay tickets or show up to court because they don’t have the financial means of defending themselves. Public Defenders (we call them “Public Pretenders” in the ‘hood) are all but on prosecutors’ side, even when it’s extremely obvious a person is innocent.
For example, when I was 20 I was at a party in Fullerton, California with my friend. We had matching BMWs. The cars had loud exhaust systems and when we drove off we caught nearby officers’ attention. They pulled us over and gave us misdemeanor criminal charges for “exhibition of speed.” I was a legally inept kid at the time and didn’t realize their method of determining our speed, a “visual estimate,” could easily be invalidated in court. When I went to court, the Public Defender told me I would go to jail for years and that I should take the reduced charge of speeding. Scared to death of jail, I took the deal and was made to pay a hefty fine and get points on my driving record. Little did I know visual estimates, while admissible in court, carry little weight. A decade and a half later, after I had learned how to read laws, an officer pulled me over for speeding (I actually may have been speeding this time). He told me he visually estimated me doing 45 in a 35-mile per hour zone. I challenged him in court and in a lengthy cross examination about his ability and qualification to estimate speed I revealed him to be an insufficient witness. The trial ended with him looking like a fool in front of the whole courtroom. I even suggested some supplemental training for the officer so he doesn’t waste more citizens’ time. The courtroom erupted in laughter. The point is this: Even the institution of Public Defenders is hostile towards us; and they’re supposed to be defending us. The Public Defender on my case as a kid just helped the prosecutor put me in legal jeopardy over a case with weak evidence. This is yet another agency demonstrating America’s inclination to hurt us.
- Strengthen Constitutional protections by instituting professional and legal penalties for those who violate them under the color of law. Police who use their authority to subvert Citizens’ Constitutional rights are either hostile towards the Constitution or don’t accept black people as first-class citizens. An America that doesn’t hate black people would be so incensed by this breach of duty that it would harshly penalize this type of Constitutional disrespect as “un-American.” People who use the government’s name to drive a wedge between citizens and their entitled rights should be locked under the jail and ostracized. But instead, America shows the opposite regard for us. Police widely teach “Operation Pipeline” techniques to their officers. This method of policing teaches officers how to legally subvert citizens’ Constitutional rights. America should do a 180-degree turn on this practice and institute harsh penalties for officers who actively work to violate our essential protections.
These are two suggestions and an olive branch to Conservatives who seem hell-bent on instituting voter ID in response to Donald Trump’s loss. I feel the real reason they keep pushing for Voter ID is they don’t want to accept Donald Trump’s 2020 loss; they create devices like fictional voter fraud to blame it on. The voter ID issue creates another element they can say prevented their truth from being realized.
I feel that media miss these points about why black people are generally opposed to Voter ID laws. CNN, MSNBC and FOX continue to have countless superficial debates without getting to the root of the matter, black people’s legitimate fear of government institutions; they all fail to mention this point. These companies are more about exploiting the fact of a debate on Voter ID than fully covering the issue.