Thursday, February 16, 2017

US Tradition Keeping Out Blacks - From Trumps Apartments To Voting Booths

One might think it's just a coincidence that the FBI released (apparently) today  hundreds of pages from the 1970s case against Trump and his father for discriminating against blacks in their apartments and the release of a study showing that the various voter id laws enacted in some states have had a significant effect in keeping black and other minority voters from the polls.

But it's probably not that much of a coincidence.   White folks have had lots of time to come up with subterfuges to keep blacks from housing, financing, jobs, marrying their daughters, staying at their hotels, voting, and the list goes on and on.  So there is always some new revelation of how it's done in some new form, new field, or new place.  Or historically as old data are released.

The reason Republicans have been yelling voter fraud at Democrats, is simple.  People think others are doing what they are doing.  And the Republicans, since taking over the South in the 1970s, have been trying to keep black voters from voting.  It's probably true when they say they have nothing against black voters.  It's just Democratic voters they don't like and black voters tend to vote Democratic. But white Democrats don't get affected the same way.    But it appears to also be true that the voter id laws are keeping significant numbers of blacks from voting.

Researchers Zoltan L. Hajnal, Nazita Lajevardi and Lindsay Nielson argue that earlier such studies were inconclusive, but now there's enough data and there have been enough elections that their new data can show a significant impact on minority voters.  (Yes, I'm sure skeptical readers will be reinforced by the decidedly un-Anglo Saxon sounding names of the first two authors, but what could be more American sounding than Lindsay Nielson?)  From the Washington Post article on the study:
"When we compare overall turnout in states with strict ID laws to turnout in states without these laws, we find no significant difference. That pattern matches with most existing studies. But when we dig deeper and look specifically at racial and ethnic minority turnout, we see a significant drop in minority participation when and where these laws are implemented.

Hispanics are affected the most: Turnout is 7.1 percentage points lower in general elections and 5.3 points lower in primaries in strict ID states than it is in other states. Strict ID laws mean lower African American, Asian American and multiracial American turnout as well. White turnout is largely unaffected."
And here's the graph from the article:

Beyond voter id laws, there are laws to keep felons (disproportionately black because of criminalization of being black - see the movie 13th  (available on Netflix), to reducing polling places in black areas, etc. etc.  I'm convinced that Trump's claims of voter fraud are almost true.  He just should have said  election fraud - the Republican party's massive campaign to keep blacks from voting.

That's why we have a voting rights act, but a key portion of which was ruled out of date by the Supreme Court in 2013.  Now some of the states are blatantly violating voter rights, and while the courts have eventually ruled against the states (the part that was invalidated was the part that required states with bad records to have new changes in voting related laws get pre-approval from the Department of Justice), folks are hoping another conservative on the Supreme Court and an Alabama born and bred white Attorney General will come to their rescue.

About the Trump discrimination case. . . They settled with a clause that allowed them to not admit guilt and pay a fine and agree to not discriminate in the future.

Their subterfuge came about mainly by telling black applicants that the apartments had already been rented (though they turned out to still be available when white applicants showed up) and if that failed, by telling them the rent was double what it really was.  Here's a screenshot from page 34 of the nearly 400 pages now on the FBI website.  (Many pages are almost illegible because of bad copying of documents and names and other identifiers are redacted, but this page is pretty clear.)

Click to enlarge and focus

This case has been extensively covered for people who were paying attention and not just absorbing Breitbart and Fox.  I mentioned already last March.

There are so many ways to discriminate without being obvious about it.  There was even a guide called  The Green Book - specifically for African-American motorists to help them find establishments that would serve them as the traveled by car across the US.  And there's ample examples of ways to discriminate covertly if you just google.  I've been unsuccessfully trying to find the name of a book in which the black Yale grad author writes an African-American guide to restaurants in New York City.  The factors he rated related to ways blacks are discriminated against in such restaurants.  I don't remember them all, but here are a few:

  • Whether they can find your reservation when you show up and realize you're black
  • How long does it take to seat you?
  • Do they put you next to the kitchen or in an obscure table where others can't see you?
  • How long does it take to get a menu, get served?
I'm counting on the Trump administration to help people realize the way power is misused in this country, to get people really pissed off, and to lead to much more positive and respectful communication between the people the very rich have so successfully divided and conquered.  

On a positive side is this short Danish film that points out that we all have much more in common than we think.

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