Editorial: Be prepared to face 2015 issues into next year

Editorial: Be prepared to face 2015 issues into next year
December 31
00:00 2015

Tomorrow is the beginning of a new year in the 21st century. What could be hard to believe is that we have some of the same problems we had in the 20th century. Voter suppression, police brutality and racism have been carried over into this century and into this year. As we move toward 2016, be aware of what we face.

*The N.C. NAACP and other groups have challenged N.C. government over the 2013 law that restricts voting in the state. The legal case was split so that the voter ID segment is being heard separately after state government did an end run and modified the use of voter IDs to appear kinder and gentler. No part of the legal case has been settled, so we head into 2016 anticipating decisions. Decisions against the plaintiffs will harm voting rights in America.

*Meanwhile, in 2016 we prepare to vote in early primaries, which were moved up for political reasons. Republicans, who run the government in North Carolina, decided they want to have more influence over presidential politics. So they moved primary elections from May to March. This means two months of the primary segment of the election cycle has been cut. Democrats complained that the shorter cycle could hamper the party’s ability to recruit quality candidates. The filing deadline was Dec. 21. The election move also cuts the time frame to register voters. The deadline to register to vote in the primaries is Feb. 19, two months earlier than in the past.

*N.C. government is also being sued over how it drew lines in 2011 that govern voting districts for the General Assembly and the U.S. Congress. The U.S. Supreme Court this year told the N.C. Supreme Court to revisit its ruling against the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against N.C.’s redistricting. Civil rights groups say the districts illegally concentrate black voters in a handful of districts. The state Supreme Court did revisit its ruling and upheld it on Dec. 18. Look for this fight to continue into 2016.

*Americans have been made more aware of police attacks and killings since 2014, when unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson, Missouri. This year, several more young black men and women have died while in police custody in cities across the United States. The phrases “Black Lives Matter” and “Hands up, Don’t Shoot” have gained prominence among African-Americans and other Americans. In 2016, those phrases probably will not die because the cases won’t die. In Winston-Salem, the family of Travis Page and the African-American community wait to see the video on Travis Page’s arrest and reports that give details on what happened when Page died in police custody in November.

*Racism and ethnic and religious hatred have been revealed in high places as Republican candidates for president of the United States have blurted out facist-like policies and derogatory words on the campaign trail. The Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity denounced black GOP candidate Ben Carson when he appeared in Winston-Salem at a church after he said a Muslim should not be president. The Ministers’ Conference spoke against rich businessman and GOP candidate Donald Trump over his racist comments against African-Americans and Latinos. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush also said disparaging words about African-Americans. Get ready for more insults as the race for president continues.

We also still have poverty in the 21st century. Winston-Salem has about a 24 percent poverty rate based on income, which is higher than the poverty rate of North Carolina. While there are efforts in place to fight poverty, Mayor Allen Joines, who is up for re-election, has announced a new effort in the fight. This effort will involve a 21-member panel and could take up to five years. We should follow the progress of this effort into 2016.

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