The Times They Are A Changin…

But Racism Stays the Same

There is no way to put a good face on it. The U.S. Supreme Court cut the guts out of the 1965 Voter Rights Act, one of the seminal achievements of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s.

True, they didn’t throw it out entirely. They just made it useless. They eliminated the formulas that the U.S. Justice Department employed to determine where the Act should apply.

The ruling was 5 to 4, with the reactionary wing winning the day.

The great irony here is that the underlying argument is that “times change.” What was needed in the 60’s is no longer needed because “times change.”

These are the same voices who argue that the principles in the Constitution do not change with the times.

These are the voices that say the words of the Constitution are plainly understood, inviolate, sacred and immutable. The meanings do not change as airplanes fly where the Founding Fathers could not go. They do not change as science finds a stem cell that gives a new nerve to a deaf child’s ear. The words do not change when automatic rifles gun down children.

But they do change when race is at issue.


For old folks, who were in college during the Civil Rights Movement, this is a summons to drag the knee replacement and grey hair back to the lunch counter.

Permit me a simple illustration of why times have not changed. Below is a national map showing the states that have declined to implement the expansions of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.





The swath of yellow on this map that runs from North Carolina through Texas is the same area that wants the Voter Rights Act invalidated. Because of an option created by (yep) the Supreme Court, these states are choosing not to expand Medicaid to everyone under 138% of poverty – a majority of them people of color. Poor, Black Americans are on their own.

The racist aristocracies in these states, the heirs of slave owners, the N word users, will deny health care to the poorest of their neighbors even if it is paid for by the entire nation.

But, times change. These poor Black and Brown folks no longer need the protections that enable them to fight back at the ballot box because, well, times change.

If ever there was an issue that should motivate progressives to take a deep breath, to renew their souls, to find hope because the racists have goon way too far – here it is.

The times may change but our commitment to racial and economic justice will not.