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Research

Resegregation in Southern Politics?
David A. Bositis, Ph.D.
November 2011

Following the election of President Barack Obama, many political observers – especially conservative ones — suggested that the United States is now a post-racial society. Three years later, in the region of the country where most African Americans live, the South, there is strong statistical evidence that politics is resegregating, with African Americans once again excluded from power and representation. Black voters and elected officials have less influence now than at any time since the civil rights era. And since conservative whites control all the power in the region, they are enacting legislation both neglectful of the needs of African Americans and other communities of color (in health care, in education, in criminal justice policy) as well as outright hostile to them, as in the assault on voting rights through photo identification laws and other means.

The racially polarized voting that defines much of southern politics at this time, is in certain ways recreating the segregated system of the Old South, albeit a de facto
system with minimal violence rather than the de jure system of before. If the political parties in the South are now a substitute for racial labels, then black aspirations there will continue to be limited. All this is reminiscent of the white primaries and poll taxes of days gone by.

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