On Wednesday, November 9th, America stood in shock. Jaws ajar, words failing, tears falling, and safety pins ready, many Americans saw for the first time that our democracy does not function as it ought to. On Saturday, November 12, Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock demonstrated the post-election collective eye roll of Black America. Their Saturday Night Live skit perfectly embodied Black America’s disappointment, yet confirmed speculation that America, in all of its white supremacy and identity politics, was capable of electing a Trump.
Hilary Clinton won the election. And yet she lost. And while millions of people could not and cannot comprehend that it happened, it was nothing new to us.
On Tuesday this week, the North Carolina General Assembly gathered for its third special session of the year. Called by the Governor, the session was intended to address the needs of the 4.2 million North Carolinians affected by massive flooding following Hurricane Matthew. The weeks leading up to the special session, rumors began to circulate about the possible attempts by the General Assembly to add Republican seats to the newly left-leaning NC Supreme Court. Civil rights and activists group made calls, demanding that the General Assembly stick only to Matthew’s relief bill and to leave partisan politics out of it. NC GOP, led by Dallas Woodhouse (the leader of the NC voter disenfranchisement efforts), heavily chastised the groups, accusing them of spreading unfounded rumors.
The third special session came. A $200 million relief bill was passed. Immediately following, a fourth special session was called. When asked by Democratic leadership why they kept their intentions a secret, House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate Speaker Phil Berger claimed it was a last minute decision. That was a lie.
In a slurry of orchestrated parliamentary procedure, legislators filed bill after bill, most of which sought to significantly strip incoming Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, of power. As has been pointed out by many, this is a completely partisan power move that shits in the face of democracy.
While this move by NC GOP is both petty and vile, it is more than likely constitutional.
Many North Carolinians are in shock and cannot believe our democratic system is being completely contorted and misused; in disbelief that elected officials would have so little regard for the well-being and will of the people.
But not Black folk. We understand how this system works. This is the same democratic system that made our ancestors 3/5 of a person, the same one that affirmed “separate but equal”, the same one which fought to snatch away our voting rights, the same one that allowed George Zimmerman to walk free and that left Michael Brown lying dead in the street.
This is how Black and brown people have felt for centuries. This is the democratic system we have become accustomed to.
We’ve always been aware of the rules and how government works. But we’ve also understood that those rules and traditions and values are only as honored as their ability to maintain the status quo (in the context I’m referring to, status quo is white supremacy). The betrail, belittlement, the sense of feeling unheard, ignored, and disenfranchised is how many Black Americans have felt our entire lives.
The system is broken. And we’ve been telling yall that for a minute.
While the “moral arc of the universe” does, in fact, bend towards justice, it does not bend on its own. It is bent. It is tugged and torqued by abolitionist, freedom fighters, and activists all while being battered by the agents of the white supremacist patriarchy.
Our system is not neutral and our justice is not blind. It is as racist and sexist as the people who create and administer them. In Trump’s America, it is just as important as ever to remember that democracy and justice are not non-partisan values that self-regulate. They must be fought for.
Welcome to the struggle.