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Eric Hubner: What will your legacy be on racial injustice?

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Demonstrators honk their horns as they drive in downtown Salt Lake City, during a rally for justice for George Floyd, in solidarity with Minneapolis, as Derek Chauvin's trial starts on Monday, the rally was sponsored by Utah Against Police Brutality, on Saturday, March 6, 2021.

As U.S. citizens, we each have the power to join with others to change the course of American history. For example, Republicans have the chance to show their children and grandchildren that they believe in equality for all when it comes to voting rights.

Right now, if you’re a Republican, it appears you support leaders who believe voting is a privilege reserved mostly for white people. Many Republicans voted for a racist Donald Trump — twice. But if you don’t agree with racism, you can leave a legacy of love and acceptance by advocating for the rights of others.

The problem of racism in the Republican Party is not just Trump. It’s widespread. Trump is out of office, yet 361 restrictive voting bills are being introduced by Republicans in GOP led state legislatures across the country.

These bills are designed to do such things as end automatic voter registration, limit voting by mail, stop Sunday voting and enact a number of other vote suppression measures, all steps that experts say disproportionately target Black voters.

Republican strategists know that people of color will comprise the majority of working class Americans by 2032. That’s why Republicans are desperately trying to suppress the vote of Black and brown Americans. Republican legislators aren’t going to say this openly. They talk in racist code about protecting “election integrity,” yet Republicans lost numerous election integrity court cases, having provided no substantive proof of voter fraud.

It wasn’t always this way among Republicans. The GOP had a hopeful beginning as a political party. The Republican Party was formed in 1854 in opposition to the Kansas Nebraska act that promoted the extension of slavery into additional American territories.

A Republican president, named Abraham Lincoln, emancipated Black Americans from slavery. The Republican Party offered encouragement to African American voters and black politicians in the post Civil War period. But things changed.

Republicans forgot the people they freed from slavery. They abandoned Black Americans on the road to freedom as they allowed racists in postbellum southern states to deconstruct reconstruction, enact laws to deprive Blacks of the vote and institute re-enslavement through unjust imprisonment and much more. By the time the 1960s came along two thirds of Blacks were Democrats.

In 2021, racism appears to be Republicans’ vision for America’s future. Of course, brown and Black Americans will not passively accept being deprived of their right to vote. After watching Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol, it takes little imagination to envision white racists’ potentially violent response to the outrage of minority voters.

A few words borrowed from Dylan Thomas paint an apt picture of a potential future conflict:

“Though wise men [and women] know what is right,” many white Americans will not share political power without a bloody fight. They will “rage, rage against the dying of their might, burn and rave at close of day.”

If Republican voters, like you, don’t agree with new “Jim Crow” laws designed to stop Black and and brown voters from having access to the polls, then what are you doing to stop GOP legislators from targeting minority voters?

As a Republican, you can prevent a civil war over civil rights by treating others as you wish to be treated. You can open your hearts to persons you imagine as “not like us.” You can make allies instead of enemies. You can recruit voters of color instead of suppressing them.

The heart of a person is revealed in their actions or inaction. Lack of effort to help remedy injustice reveals a person’s indifference to cruelty and inequality.

Republicans, GOP representatives in government can act to promote voter access for brown and black Americans. They will do this only if tens of thousands of Republican voters, like you, choose to act for racial justice and pressure Republican legislators to protect the right to vote for all Americans.

Decide now what you will do, because your own character and the fate of your country are tied to the rails before the roaring engine of radical GOP racial politics. What happens next is up to you. Whatever you do —will be your personal legacy on racial injustice.

Eric Hubner

Eric Hubner, Volcano, Hawai’i, received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Brigham Young University, as well as a master of social work degree from the State University of New York. He is a retired mental health therapist and school social worker, who also worked in the addiction field and coordinated services for families at risk of child abuse and neglect.

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