Looking at the Path Ahead

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The long and contentious election season is over, and Donald J. Trump is the President-elect of the United States. The 2016 election will have profound results for our country and the world. Among the most important impacts will be the civil and constitutional rights of the citizens and people of the United States.

The UNC Center for Civil Rights is a non-partisan entity. Its mission is the advancement of civil rights in North Carolina, the south, and the nation, and the training of new generations of civil rights lawyers. While we are non-partisan, we are compelled to acknowledge the effects of partisan politics on civil rights. We did not create this reality, and if we could choose, there would be no partisan alignment on civil rights issues. We are aware of the fact that historically the two major parties once stood in opposite positions on civil rights than they occupy now, and we hope for the days when issues of race and civil rights transcend partisan politics. Those days, like the days of color-blindness and post-racialism, have not yet arrived. The issues that engender the work of the Center for Civil Rights were front and center in this election, even if there are other issues on which people of good faith can disagree. But to see the primacy of race in this hotly contested election all one has to do is consider the forces unleashed by the rhetoric of Donald Trump, the forces we see unleashed even in the early days of the aftermath of the election, and the significance of the endorsement by the KKK, other hate groups, and those committed to dismantling the vision of a diverse society committed to equality principles. No honest person can deny the significance of race; no analysis of the election begins or ends without it.

While we wish we were contemplating another set of possibilities in the aftermath of the election, in which the values of equality, fairness, and anti-discrimination could be more ascendant in our politics, in our jurisprudence, and in our discourse, we are forced to acknowledge that racism, misogyny, homophobia, religious discrimination, and other forms of bigotry remain a part of American life. Even with the election, twice, of the nation’s first African American president, and, in fact, perhaps because of it, we are reminded of the unfinished work of racial, economic, gender, and other forms of justice.

A civil rights agenda, in which we could attempt to turn around some of our worst losses, and even to envision a more bold and forward looking jurisprudence, was within our grasp. That vision is highly unlikely to be successfully advanced before a Trump loaded judiciary, overseen by continued conservative majority on the Supreme Court. The work of the Center, and of other civil rights organizations in North Carolina and beyond, must go on. Much of this work will be continue to be defensive, aimed at countering regressive legislative agendas that discriminate against people of color and others through political disempowerment, that perpetuate unequal educational opportunity and segregation and a racially discriminatory criminal justice system, and which deny the inevitable march toward a more inclusive society.

We at the Center for Civil Rights hope that the worst fears of those who were targeted by bigotry, and by rhetorical and physical assault during the campaign prove unfounded, and that the new administration commits to vigorous enforcement of civil and constitutional rights. Come what may, we remain committed to the task work of racial and economic justice. We ask for your continued support in these troubled times, as our struggle continues.

To donate to the Center for Civil Rights visit: go.unc.edu/M7G5K.

In struggle,

Ted M. Shaw
Julius L. Chambers Distinguished Professor of Law
and Director of the Center for Civil Rights

Posted by Theodore M. Shaw (Ted) on Tue. November 15, 2016 4:49 PM
Categories: General, Race Discrimination
UNC School of Law | Van Hecke-Wettach Hall | 160 Ridge Road, CB #3380 | Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380 | 919.962.5106

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