Websurfing again and came across another article. Institutionalized racism is alive and well and hidden in state documents.
Commentary: Racist language excised from Ala. constitution would be a gift
Date: Tuesday, December 21, 2004
By: David Person, BlackAmericaWeb.com
There are the Christmas gifts you want, the ones you need, and the ones you hope came with a receipt.
And what a Christmas gift it would have been if more of my fellow Alabamians had voted for Amendment 2 last month. If they had, the ugly language in our constitution that says white and black children must attend separate schools would be gone.
For me and many other Alabamians, that present would have been one of the best we could get ? almost as good as that iPod I?m hoping Santa will drop in my stocking [hint, hint].
However, because it didn?t pass Alabama has to face a painful truth: At best, too many of us aren?t willing to renounce completely our state?s racist past. At worst, too many hardcore bigots still walk among us who would rather see me and my boys picking cotton as slaves than living free.
Bob Riley, Alabama?s white, conservative Republican governor, is not one of those bigots, thank God. In fact, he wants the legislature to take another crack at getting rid of the racist language in our state?s constitution by putting on the 2005 ballot his version of Amendment 2.
In it, we were only asked to remove the clause that requires separate schools for blacks and whites. Riley?s version of Amendment 2 didn?t also ask us to remove a 1956 clause that said the state wasn?t obligated to educate Alabama?s children.
Alvin Holmes, one of Alabama?s most well-known black legislators, has a problem with this. He said the 1956 clause was injected only because of resentment about the U.S. Supreme Court?s 1954 ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education, which made segregated schools illegal.
In response, Holmes said that Alabama?s legislators passed Amendment 111, which said the state wasn?t responsible for educating Alabama?s children. He said their plan was to kill off public schools by encouraging whites to send their children to private schools, leaving black and poor white children in unfunded schools.
Holmes believes that any version of Amendment 2 that doesn?t strip the 1956 language from the Alabama Constitution plays right into the hands of racists. So he has promised a filibuster to a halt to prevent any version of Amendment 2 from getting on the ballot in 2005 other than the one that Alabamians just voted down.
To allow a watered-down version, Holmes said, would be ?spitting in the eyes of black people in Alabama.?
Holmes is right, and anyone who understands history knows this. The problem for Alabamans of good will, however, is that if Holmes prevails, then two racist clauses ? the one segregating schools and the other designed to keep black children uneducated ? will remain in the Alabama Constitution.
You may think this is just a problem for us black folks in Alabama but it?s not. This stand-off between Riley and Holmes points to several larger problems facing black people across this nation, especially in light of the Bush administration?s last four years and this last election.
Bigotry is much more subtle and complicated than it used to be. At least one generation of whites in America has gotten used to working with and living near black people. More of our children go to school with theirs. Increasingly, blacks and whites are even worshipping in the same churches.
The Bush administration?s Cabinet reflected this trend toward diversity during its first term with the high-profile appointments of Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Education Rod Paige. However, having prominent blacks in his Cabinet didn?t prevent President Bush from taking the wrong position on affirmative action ? and announcing it just prior to the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday, no less.
It?s also not enough to remove one racist clause in the Alabama Constitution while ignoring another right near it. Complicated or not, bigotry is still bigotry.
Nevertheless, progress comes one step at a time. Right now, it?s most important for us Alabamans to redeem ourselves after last month?s debacle by stripping the obvious racist language from our state constitution.
Once that job is done, Holmes should attack the 1956 clause and any other remnants of racism that remain in Alabama’s constitution. Then Alabama will be giving itself “and the nation” a present that is long overdue.