Trayvon's Death Is an Outrage, But ...

Thanks to immigration, stronger laws and years of hard work, our poisonous biracial era is ending

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And so it's in the DNA of the republican Supreme Court Justices to liberate their Southern constituents by voiding the crucial section of the Voting Rights Act. And it's in the DNA of the Republicans in the House to strip food stamps out of the now completely obscene farm bill. And, of course, it's in their DNA as well to block or dismantle immigration reform: more legal Latinos means demographic cataclysm for the Republicans. "It's increasingly clear," Republican tactician Bill Kristol recently wrote, "that allowing any form or permutation of the Senate bill to become law would divide and demoralize potential Republican voters."

To be sure, there are caveats aplenty here. There are strong conservative arguments about welfare dependency and the perils of Big Government that have nothing to do with race; I agree with some of them. But the Southern brand of conservatism that has dominated the party for the past 40 years certainly is built on a Confederate legacy. On the other side of the aisle, even the vaunted Voting Rights Act, a monument to racial justice in the 1960s, has become, over time, a bastion of racial division, with its insistence on the creation of race-based congressional districts in the South. In more than a few states, collusion between white suburban and black urban state legislators eliminated districts where politicians would have to appeal to both blacks and whites to win. This has been terrible for our democracy.

The good news is that we are moving beyond all that. The Republicans can no longer profit from being a predominantly all-white, regional, rural party. The Al Sharpton version of the Democratic Party is 20 years in the past. There will always be injustices like the murder of Trayvon Martin, but in our multiracial future, led by our color-blind children, there will be fewer of them.


To read the new TIME cover story on what the Trayvon Martin case means for the future of race in America, subscribe here. Already a subscriber? Click here.

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