It's Good to Be White...

Block the vote: Listen up, fellow white people. Buzz knows that the election of a black president has ushered in a giddy era for many of us. White people have been able to get away with stuff we wouldn't have dared in pre-Obama days: that whole birther thing, the secret Muslim crap, accusing Obama of running a "gangster government" — hell, the very existence of Michele Bachmann. A few years ago all that might have made us look bad. Now we simply shrug and point to the White House. How can racism be an issue in American politics? we white folks say. Look who's president!

Why, when news broke that Governor Rick Perry's hunting camp used to be called "Niggerhead" — not by him — it was black GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain who was slammed for daring to express offense. Can you imagine that happening 10 years ago? At long last, the weighty yoke of our slave-holding past is lifting from our necks. Let's all sing: Free at last. Free at last. It's OK to be whitey, we're free at last.

Ah, but danger lies in that giddiness. If we start getting too uppity too soon, the rest of the nation might just remember what a sweet deal a white hide is for its possessor. What Buzz is talking about are all those damn new voting laws, like Texas' voter ID rule. The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University's School of Law recently analyzed 19 laws and two executive actions that have passed in 14 states since Obama's election, finding "these new laws could make it significantly harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012."

The tougher voting laws have been popular in electoral battleground states and make voting harder for "young, minority, and low-income voters, as well as on voters with disabilities," says the center's report. "This wave of changes may sharply tilt the political terrain for the 2012 election."

Uh-oh. It looks like the nation might be on to us. Pointing to the White House or claiming the laws are all just "coincidence" isn't working this time. So, listen, all you white state legislators contemplating your own tougher laws — cool it for a bit. We don't want to overplay our hand and wind up having to pretend to care about racial injustice again, do we? Let's just back off. Surely there are more discreet ways to suppress the vote. And if anyone can find them, it's white people.

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Patrick Williams is editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer.
Contact: Patrick Williams