Saturday, January 31, 2009

Things to Watch Out for in 2009

The key phrase for today is “watch out!” While 2009 marks incredible change, there are still a few old school issues we need to keep a look out for:

1. A challenge to the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Watch out! Watch out! Watch out! The Supreme Court is going to hear the challenge, put forth by a Texas district (Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Mukasey). Texas wants Section 5 of the Act, which permits the U.S. government to oversee electoral-law changes, to be ruled unconstitutional. Section 5 protects us from voter racial bias. Even with Section 5, all sorts of funny business has taken place (red lining, the barring of former convicts, denial of bilingual aid, etc.). Without it, things could be worse. Section 5 has prevented (White) majorities from diluting minorities’ voting power. Texas believes now that we have a Black president, we don’t need such racial protections! According to Richard Hasen, an election-law expert at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, this challenge "has the potential to be the most important election case since Bush v. Gore." That 2000 decision cut off Florida ballot recounts and ensured Bush the White House. Read more in this USA Today article.
2. The “suicide” of Billey Joe Johnson. Watch out for this case, as well as that of Oscar Grants’. Johnson was a star high school football player in George County, Mississippi. He had offers from a host of Division I colleges. On the day of his death, he was to attend an awards banquet. However, according to a Mississippi sheriff’s office, one of their deputies pulled Johnson over for a “traffic stop.” For no apparent reason, during the stop, Johnson shot himself with a 12-guage shotgun in the head. Police called the incident a “suicide.” However, when Johnson’s remains were taken to the Cowan Funeral Home, the handlers thought the wounds didn’t match the suicide story. The funeral home operator took photos, and contacted the local NAACP. Oh, and there is speculation/rumor that Johnson was dating a White classmate, and that her father was strongly opposed to the relationship. Purportedly, the deputy and the girl’s father are friends.
3. The Martin Luther King, Jr. kids. Watch out for the siblings to implode this year. With the potential for profit mounting, as folks try to link King with Obama, the squabbling over selling their father’s image is going to come to an ugly head.

(Image: Billey Joe Johnson)

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