The War on Communities of Color

The following was written by Lynne Rambo* and published on her Facebook page on August 2, 2017, and is reprinted here in its entirety by permission.

It has been a full-blown War on Decency from the start. From “Trump the Bitch” to “grabbing pussy” to mocking disability to ridiculing a dead veteran’s parents to tweeting the dismissal of patriots from the military to criticizing the mayor of London after a terrorist attack to branding Muslims.

Now we have the War on Communities of Color.

The new DOJ, so inaptly named in this moment, has withdrawn from seeking consent decrees in cities whose police departments have employed excessive force, especially against black citizens. The President has “jokingly” suggested that the police should be rougher on those they arrest. This as we have watched numerous police officers inexplicably shooting black men. This as the President himself has been sued for inciting a riot against two black protestors at a Kentucky rally.

The Attorney General with the checkered past on race has decided that drugs, including marijuana, are our biggest problem. He has adopted this approach even as multiple states have legalized marijuana and everyone acknowledges that racial minorities have suffered tremendous discrimination in the prosecution and sentencing of drug crimes.

And today the Department announces that it will investigate our universities’ efforts to ensure that our classrooms reflect society. The Attorney General will use our resources this way despite the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the extremely limited use of race in Fisher v. University of Texas, and the existence of statutes in many states forbidding any consideration of race.

The anger, and the apparent sense of threat, from these people that have had such advantage, opportunity and power is nothing short of obscene. As compared to blacks and Latinos, every single economic, educational, and political measure in this country favors whites, most often dramatically. (Percentage employed, percentages with a high school or college degree, household income, amount inherited, property holding, test scores, political representation, and so on and so on and so on.) Every single one.

Indeed, the very starkness of the differential leaves one of two choices. Either you believe that our communities of color are inherently deficient, just intrinsically incapable of catching up, or you believe that we have never exorcised the racism that has plagued us from our start, and so we experience daily its consequences. If you are of the former view, at least have the courage to stand up and say so as you conduct this War. If you are of the latter, have the courage to question people who support the Department of “Justice.” Ask them why it is that the country is going after its least privileged people.

*Lynne Rambo is a full Professor of Law at Texas A&M University School of Law in Fort Worth, where she teaches Constitutional Law, Evidence, First Amendment Law, and a Supreme Court Seminar. She earned her undergraduate degree from Columbia, magna cum laude, and her law degree from the University of Georgia, also magna cum laude. She was editor-in-chief of the Georgia Law Review and she clerked for Judge Thomas A. Clark, United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Her comments here are her personal views, and should not be taken to represent in any way TAMU Law.