So, how do we stop that from happening?
B|E Strategy Feb 21
G.S. Potter, PhD | Senior Editor
The Black community has long called for the federal government to acknowledge the damages caused by slavery, Jim Crow, and systemic racism in the United States and pass a reparations package.
However: white nationalists and the Republican party have figured out how to stop that from ever happening.
The first step involves preventing the federal government from acknowledging the histories and experiences of Black Americans. Enter “CRT” or “Critical Race Theory.” The second step involves the criminalization of legislation that would give Black people reparations – or, basically, making reparations illegal. Exit the 14th Amendment.
Despite the narrative, there is no attack on CRT. There never has been. Critical Race Theory is a very specific theoretical framework that is taught in very few (and increasingly fewer) graduate schools. The debate over CRT is just a distraction. It’s a front for a larger effort to eliminate the ability for state and federal agencies to acknowledge the price that the Black community pays for racism and eradicate the ability for public officials and the courts to pass and uphold efforts to repair those damages.
The Republicans are banning schools and teachers from discussing anything to do with the history of white supremacy, its targets, and its effects. It is purging the experiences of Black communities (as well as other targets of white supremacy) from curriculum and increasingly working to ban Black teachers and administrators from schools and boards of education. These efforts are also beginning to extend to other state and municipal entities – not just schools.
While these attacks alone are absolutely cause for alarm, they are not the endgame itself. The endgame is something even more nefarious.
It’s one thing to allow the debates against CRT to take over on social media and in school board meetings. It’s another things to take this battle into the courts. By passing policies that eliminate discussions of white supremacy and its effects, the GOP is setting itself up for a court battle that is designed and pre-rigged to not only destroy the 14th Amendment and its ability to protect people from discrimination, but to weaponize it in the name of reverse racism while using it to destroy any efforts to negate the effects of White racism – including reparations.
We’ve already seen this happen.
As previously reported by the BEnote …
We got a taste of this when Black farmers in the United States were granted relief through the American Rescue Plan Act. This relief was passed in an effort to amend for generations of discrimination in USDA lending practices and to help Black farmers climb out of the resulting debt that was incurred. The Confederacy, though, launched a lawsuit (Miller v. Vilsack) claiming that the relief was discriminatory against White farmers. They were successful and the support was withheld.
The Big Flaw in the 14th Amendment
There is a flaw in the 14th Amendment that allowed this to happen. While the 14th Amendment prevents discrimination on the basis of race, it does not contextualize discrimination in the context of white supremacy. It does not acknowledge that racism in the United States is inseparable from white supremacy, manifest destiny, and the KKK. It does not acknowledge that discrimination is structurally designed to benefit White people. As a result, it leaves room for the courts, especially conservative and white extremist courts, to use it as a tool to protect White advancement and destroy any attempts to help Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities advance.
Under the Fourteenth Amendment, for example, it is illegal to pass legislation that would specifically help Black people. That is considered discrimination. In efforts to bypass this flaw in the 14th Amendment, the Democrats attempted to funnel money to Black farmers through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) by using the term “socially disadvantaged” in place of the word “Black.” Stephen Miller, a former senior policy advisor for the Trump administration and a rabbit white supremacist, attempted to block these relief efforts by arguing that any bid to give Black farmers aid was discriminatory under the 14th Amendment because it excluded White farmers.
Miller strategically launched this case in Texas where it would be brought into the hands of a Republican appointed judge that has a history of blocking attempts to advance civil rights legislation. Federal district court Judge Reed O’Connor (appointed by President Bush II) had previously gained recognition for ruling against the Affordable Healthcare Act, the rights for gay individuals to marry, efforts to enforce gun control legislation, and efforts to allow transgendered people to self-identify. Miller knew that 1) all courts are political and 2) his chances of success in O’Connor’s courtroom were very high, and he was right.
O’Connor ruled in favor of Miller allowing the lawsuit to move forward and issued an injunction blocking Black farmers from receiving the aid allocated to them under ARPA.
The Republicans have also launched two court cases that have made it to the Supreme Court that are similarly attacking the 14th Amendment by attacking affirmative action. Both of these cases argue that affirmative action disadvantages Asian students, but the reason these cased have been launched is to prevent Black (and Brown) advancement. The radically conservative composition of the Supreme Court makes it very likely that affirmative action will be struck down in the name of discrimination, and the 14th Amendment will be further weaponized against efforts to close the gap between the architects and beneficiaries of white supremacy and their targets.
The First Amendment Connection
This brings us back to Critical Race Theory. These policies are designed to push Democrats into countering with lawsuits claiming that laws banning “critical race theory” violate the First Amendment and the right to free speech. The argument is that the First Amendment prevents constrictions on the discussion of race and opinions on history. A la Stephen Miller, the counter argument presented by the Republicans would be that free speech does not protect discriminatory speech. And since discussions of race make White people feel uncomfortable, and because the states interpret this discomfort to be a form of discrimination, they are not protected by the First Amendment.
If the GOP finds judges and courtrooms that are sympathetic to these claims of reverse racism, they are likely to uphold the policies banning “critical race theory.” In doing so, they will not only destroy our First Amendment rights to free speech, but they will leave the 14th Amendment as a completely unchecked weapon of reverse racism.
This brings us back to reparations.
If the Republicans are successful in their legal attempts to destroy the Fourteenth Amendment, there will be no pathway for reparations for Black people. Any attempt to funnel money specifically to Black people for reparations or anything else will be obliterated in court by the very law that was designed to protect them from discrimination. If Congress passed a reparations package for Black people, or tried to use other designations like “socially disadvantaged,” Stephen Miller and the network of Confederate judges will be waiting in the wings ready and gleefully willing to strike down that legislation in court.
And so passing a reparations act is about to become illegal.
How to Make Reparations Legal
The only way to counter these efforts to make reparations illegal is to remove the Republican Party from positions of power in the courts and in Congress. To do this is not complicated: we simply have to vote with maximum numbers. We have to, first, vote against and unseat Republicans since 1) most, if not all, Republicans are on record voicing their support for voter suppression and 2) they are vehemently opposed to reparaitions. We must also vote for candidates who will aggressively engage in the efforts to pass reparations legislation and support their efforts to defend that legislation in the courts. We have to vote for judges (state and local) and for people who will appoint judges that are willing to uphold the true meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment and prevent it from being weaponized against the Black community and other targets of white supremacy. And we need to vote in candidates in numbers large enough to expand the courts so the party of Confederate insurgency no longer has a chokehold on the highest court in the nation.
There are many in the Black community who argue that until they see reparations passed, they will not vote for the Democratic party, especially in 2022. While the frustration is understandable, the strategy is not. We can only get reparations passed if we all come out to the polls in numbers that overwhelm both white Republicans and Democrats alike. We can only get reparations passed if we vote in enough Members of Congress, House and Senate, to do so. That means holding onto the territories gained in Georgia and flipping Black heavy states like Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi and Alabama in 2022 and 2024. That means keeping the party trying to make reparations illegal out of power. If Black voters tap out of the process because they haven’t received reparations yet, they are all but guaranteeing that day will never come.
The Republicans want to make passing a reparations package illegal. If we don’t come together to stop them, they will likely succeed. If we don’t come together strategically to stop them, they will definitely succeed.