The Black and Cuba roadshow continues Sunday June 4, 2017 in Baltimore at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum 2pm 803 Pratt Street. Join this caring and vibrant community for what’s sure to be a lively dialogue after the film. If you can’t make it Sunday, Black and Cuba is also available on DVD and on demand at iTunes, Amazon and Google Play.
40 years ago, Sam Greenlee’s novel and 1973 film adaptation, The Spook Who Sat by the Door, examined racial issues in the United States; many of its key points remain relevant today. At the time, very small gestures were being made in an attempt to appease the Black community. Token representatives were granted access to high level positions in the U.S. government as “proof” that the country was equal for all. In the film, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is forced by an image-conscious senator to accept a group of Black recruits. The protagonist, Dan Freeman, is the only member of the group to pass all of the tests, despite White agents’ numerous attempts to sabotage him.
It’s that time again! It’s the time when hollow buzz words such as “prosperity” and “freedom” dominate the airwaves, bombarding the senses yet falling short of truly addressing the issues. Yes, folks, its election time in the United States! With less than a week left before the election, partisan bickering is nearing its highest levels and the pressure to “choose sides” is increasing with each day. Two of the largest voting groups that are being targeted in these final weeks are students and black voters. Large supporters of Barack Obama in 2008, these constituencies could be the deciding factor in ever-important swing states such as North Carolina and Ohio. However, there is a disturbing lack of discussion regarding the topic of mass incarceration in the United States, a systemic epidemic that disproportionately affects Black and Latino youth.
In one week, most of us will head to the polls to cast our vote. This year’s decisive election will mean that every vote will count, especially in swing states where there is a tight race between the candidates. Unfortunately, 5.85 million Americans will not be able to voice their political views this November due to voting regulation laws which deny convicted felons the right to vote in most states. Since the 1970s, there has been a 500% increase in felon disenfranchisement due to the War on Drugs, which disproportionately affects poor, African American and Latino communities. This means that 7.66% – 1 out of every 13 African Americans – will be barred from the vote, an estimate that is four times greater than the rate for people who are not of African American descent. Out of the 10 states with the highest disenfranchisement rates, 7 are in the South. Florida, a state that is almost always critical to an election victory, has the highest disenfranchisement rate in the country with 23.32% of its African American population unable to vote. Disenfranchisement laws have swung Presidential elections(more…)
This past August at the Republican National Convention, Vice Presidential Nominee Paul Ryan stated, “The right that makes all the difference now is the right to choose our own leaders.” Despite the recent victory in Pennsylvania, voter ID laws continue to threaten to disenfranchise an alarming 21 million eligible voters, something that does not echo Ryan’s patriotic affirmation. These laws require specific forms of picture identification – which are not widely used nor easily obtained. Opponents of the new legislation claim that the laws will disproportionately restrict the voting rights of African Americans, Latinos, elderly, poor, and college students.
Advocates of the strict laws claim they’re designed to prevent in-person voter fraud. But fraud prevention is a fallacy. An independent study from News21 negates the existence of in-person voter fraud. And State Rep. Mike Turzai’s assertion that “[The] voter ID [law]… is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania,” only affirms that the laws are motivated by partisan politics rather than justice. These laws are dangerous because they do not protect the democratic process – they dismantle it. Voter suppression plants seeds of discouragement, instilling a sense helplessness to those most affected and lessening the civic participation that democracy should be dependent on.