Citizenship In Name Only: The Coloring of Democracy While Redefining Rights, Liberties And Self Determination For The 21st Century

Parson, E. Earl; McLaughlin, Monique

In recent times there has been an explosion of interest in the concept of citizenship. This renewed theoretical focus was sparked by voter ID statutes and jury obstruction. Defining the term “full citizenship” as it relates to African Americans has been a focus of controversy since the writing of the U.S. Constitution. Do African Americans enjoy the status of full citizenship or is it in name only? This essay examines two fundamental areas of citizenship: voting rights and jury participation. This essay, through comparative analysis, will show deep rooted voting suppression tactics and present jury obstruction methods that impact African Americans and their full citizenship rights. The jury system is one of the most important institutions of government. The right and duty to sit on a jury is granted to all adult citizens. Racial bias denies the defendant the right to a fair and impartial jury, and it denies citizens the fundamental right to participate fully in the judicial system. African Americans have been disproportionally excluded through pretextual peremptory challenges. Moreover, lawmakers have embarked on a new voter suppression tactic: voter identification requirements. The tactic involves imposing new laws and rules requiring voters to show identification in order to vote, despite virtually no evidence of voter misidentification fraud. Identification requirements pose a special burden to the poor, racial minorities, and senior citizens who often do not have specific forms of identification. The pretextual color-blind race neutrality argument made by state legislators rings hollow when this nation’s history of voting obstruction is considered.


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Columbia Journal of Race and Law

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March 13, 2015