September 6, 2006

Race, Class and Voting

Race, Class and Voting

This show has been sent to the graveyard. For an explanation, see our post on Experiments in Democracy.

Yesterday’s redistricting show brought up many interesting questions with regard to race. Attorney Nina Perales described her Supreme Court victory in the Texas redistricting case that violated the Voting Rights Act by “unpacking” heavily Latino districts in the state, and introduced us to the concept of “racially polarized voting,” where whites and minorities will not vote for the same candidates. It was fascinating to consider the implications of a Latino advocacy group challenging the victory of a Latino candidate on the grounds that he was not the Latino voters’ candidate of choice.

To follow up, we’re planning a show which would combine two of the ongoing series we’ve pursued this year: Race & Class + Election Reform = Race, Class, and Voting in America. To start, we’ve enlisted Harvard Law Professor Lani Guinier, who has dedicated much of her distinguished career towards civil rights law, and was nominated by President Clinton to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in 1993.

Where’s to go from there? We know the legacy of Jim Crow persists in laws that prevent former felons from voting, or in the large numbers of African-Americans who were disenfranchised in the 2000 presidential elections. We know that voter turnout differs with regard to race, as does political representation. The nice thing about last night’s show was that it made us think about the relationship between race and voting in ways that are less obvious but just as important; we’d like to see if we can take a lesson from that and figure out a way to set up a fresh conversation on this massive subject. What are the ignored, hidden, or forgotten ways that race impacts our electoral system? And who else should we enlist to talk about them?

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