Chapter 5: How to Unelect a Black President
Large group discussion
- What was your reaction to the YouTube video? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odB1wWPqSlE—by
- Describe how you first learned about voting/memories of voting. Do you have any personal examples of voter disenfranchisement? If you have chosen to not vote, describe that decision.
- Were you aware in 2013 when the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act? How did you feel at the time? How do you feel now after reading the book?
Large group discussion
- Share any responses from small groups. Did patterns emerge in voting memories? Are there differences in terms of the way that we learned about voting?
- The language that led to the curtailing of voting rights was rooted in language about voter fraud and the idea of “common sense protections.” Such language draws on most people’s natural fears of fraud and desire for protections. However, voter fraud is rare. How can we frame the importance of protecting the rights of all voters in a positive way rather than being on the defensive or focusing solely on denying their claims?
- On page 150, Dr. Anderson notes that it was argued “because the law (VRA) has worked so well… the act, as reauthorized by Congress in 2006, was out of sync with modern times”. What evidence do we have of its success and what evidence do we have that this is still needed? The rationale for turning over continued enforcement of legislation protecting rights of (black) voters is that racism is a past, not current, problem. How can we reinforce the fact that racism continues to be a problem pervading society without alienating people and making them feel as though they are being called racist? And how can we stress that progress/success of some does not mean legislative protections that enabled that success/progress should be removed?
- One of the first activities we did together was to share where our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents were from. When you or your family/ancestors immigrated to America, do you know what the reception was like? Did they face discrimination? Were they welcome? Please discuss. You can share actual stories that your family has shared with you/passed on, or using what you know about the historical time period, you can muse on what the experience might have been like for them. Has the situation changed today in terms of how people of your background are seen/treated, or how new immigrants from that country are welcomed?
- Dr. Anderson chose to dedicate only a small section to the recent violent deaths due to police violence and chose to not use the victims’ names. What did you think of the decision to not use the names, particularly given the “Say their names” movement?
- Recent Supreme Court cases have centered on racial gerrymandering (post the book’s end). The VRA allowed districts to be developed to be majority-minority, to increase representation of minorities. However, this can dilute minority influence in neighboring districts. The outcomes of these cases could have serious implications for voting rights. What, if anything, have you heard about them? Any reactions? https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/06/09/how-a-widespread-practice-to-politically-empower-african-americans-might-actually-harm-them/?utm_term=.6d28b0ed1cc1