Wednesday, June 26, 2013

0 Tiny Victories: Satiation is Death, On SCOTUS this Week

We are living in a time of progress of thought, ideas, and justice. And in the name of progress, the Supreme Court  of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled to strike down section 3 of Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which didn't recognize same-sex marriage federally. This adds to a growing fight for equality nationwide, allowing persons who have already been legally married in their state to receive federal benefits. This is a victory, for so many queer-committed persons.

However, this “monumental” ruling will in many ways overshadow most of the terrors/traumas enacted on women, people of color and the disenfranchised this week. This tiny victory has the power to erase the myriad of wars going on in this country. This morsel of “hope” will satiate so many “activist” and “allies” for the next 5, 10, 20 years-- all while injustice still frames, enslaves, and disenfranchises this country. To contextualize the triviality of today’s ruling I offer three other SCOTUS rulings and the impact they have on already marginalized persons.

First, and most personally horrifying, was the strike down of a critical portion of the 1965 Voter’s Right Act. This ruling allows states to change their election laws without federal regulation. We live in a country where unbiased words allow for social enslavement. Lawmakers of the time were fully aware that left to their own devices, states would continue to limit the laws and further marginalize Black voters. This law, now gutted, put thousands of poor, Black, and Latino voters at risk of being denied their right to vote. This unbiased language makes room for problematic legislation that if passed will be virtually impossible to revoke. We are not past-race; this legislation proves that. It took Texas less than two hours redraw voting districts and limit the types of ID allowed to vote. This law makes it now exponentially harder for poor, disabled, Black, and Latino voters to vote considering they are most likely to not have government issued ID’s. We are not post-disenfranchisement.

But SCOTUS, was not just giving free reign to law makers to deny voting right, they also problematized our justice system. In Salina v. Texas, SCOTUS struck down the right to remain silent before one is arrested. Again seemingly not problematic, let us consider what this statute allows. In times of pre-arrest questioning, before Miranda rights are given, your Fifth Amendment right can be used against you. This ruling sanctions confessions from, many undocumented/ unregulated interrogations. In the day of DNA exoneration and the prison industrial complex, this is a blow to fair and due process. This is ammunition for a continuing criminalization of the disenfranchised.

But our SCOTUS did not stop there, workers rights were compromised in the case of Vance v. Ball State University. A worker can now be subject to day to day harassment by a supervisor as long as the “supervisor” doesn't have the power to “hire, fire, demote, promote, or reprimand”. This is ludicrous because of the semantics. It is torture rather than death. The marginalization can continue; the subjugation can remain. For anyone who works in an entry level or lower ranked position this is a blow to work safety. Workplace equality which has historically been a gendered space now becomes immensely more treacherous for all. The workplace that has been unsafe for queer person now becomes another battleground.

If these SCOTUS rulings show us anything, it is that there is still a war on people of color, a war on women, and a war on working class persons. And despite the rainbow wishes of peace and understanding, there is still a scathing war on queer people. We must see these tiny victories for what they are. Tiny morsels, served top down to satiate the countless hours, and funds, and work of millions of marginalized people. This tiny morsel of “marriage equality” is not even that. It gives already privileged married persons equal rights.

My fear is this; such satiation will make activist content. Such satiation will help white “allies” forget the injustice of the Voter Right’s Act. Such satiation will prevent employee safety. Such satiation will allow for decades to pass before state and federal marriage is passed. Do not be merely satisfied with morsels. Such morsels will tide you over till death. 


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