America has misappropriated King’s legacy, whitewashed King’s message, and distorted the meaning of his movement, which was not only to remedy the crimes of the past but to rise above them. Without equal rights, we are powerless to change our place and have fairness under the law.

So, why is there talk of a “Build Back Better” framework while there is a more forceful movement to impede a better democracy? The majority of racist senators conspire to segregate America and they care little about unlocking the chains that bind minorities inside this caste-and-color lockup that divorces them from mainstream American society.

The vote is either one of the most powerful means toward achieving equality or a device used to manipulate the rights of people of color so that they can be subjugated and controlled. We live in a land of managed wants and skillfully controlled needs. It can be used to yield results, to learn to manage what you desire but accept what you are given, and, most of all, not to expect to have more.

What are U.S. senators saying with their actions and by their words? How do these anti-equal opportunity senators who conspire with state governors foresee their contempt for people of color? The answer is a separate level of human rights, a bid towards achieving inequality under an unconstitutional law.

So now the issue is not about what we have heard in speeches and written promises that guarantee to make things better. The disenfranchised cannot expect a better future if the ideals of King’s movement can be tossed by the determinations of a man named Manchin and a woman named Sinema in the quick blink of an eye. Their political authority is not consistent with democracy.

Two senators swore to uphold the rights of all people, yet they have created a more divided country by going across the aisle of bigotry.

These are two people who’ve jeopardized the United States’ progress by refusing to see beyond their senatorial chairs. Not enough of their peers have bothered to shine a bright enough light on their dark money that affects the way they vote and the arrogance that precedes their choices. There isn’t enough radiance emitted over the donations that reflect on the road back to the ultimate individuals and entities funding them — not just the shell organizations used to conceal those sources.

Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are two people who use their financial empowerment to accompany the laws they make as they go along. They profess to act in the country’s interest. Yet, their actions create an obstacle to the advancement of many Americans in this nation, constructing divisions that fray the bonds of society. The interest of these two senators, throughout their political careers, has been to seize any event as an opportunity to promote their agendas.

Nineteen states have eliminated the rights of black people at the ballot box. The fact that Black leaders decided not to attend the president’s speech in Atlanta is irrelevant. The equal rights of black and brown people are the only relevant issue of our times. The struggle for civil rights is not dependent on support for the speeches of President Biden or Vice President Kamala Harris.

The struggle for civil rights is about unpreventable access to the ballot box. It is about criminalizing any man, group, or party who willfully conspires to obtain voters’ protected information, which falls under the protection of the state and the federal government. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” Americans’ constitutional rights are being violated by baseless accusations of widespread voter fraud, which allows an individual or group to access voters’ confidential information.

When something is private to a person, it usually means that something is inherently special or sensitive. The domain of privacy partially overlaps with security, including the concepts of appropriate use and protection of information. A voting booth refers to a small room or space in which voters can secretly cast their ballot. It is located inside a polling station. Voting booths are important as they ensure voter secrecy.

Bad-faith election audits are sabotaging democracy across the country. No governing body or professional association has yet adopted a definitive set of best practices for election audits, so how are these election audits not violating federal law by taking election materials out of election officials’ possession? These unauthorized persons are private citizens who have no right to access the votes of citizens who’ve made a choice in the election.

A selected population of Americans is caught in a political device designed to alter their constitutional rights by disallowing entry as if they do not exit part of the whole. What the Republican party has unleashed amounts to an expeditionary “law and order” campaign of repression intended to suppress people of color in the United States. The President and the Vice President both note that it is unconstitutional, and presenting another national speech isn’t going to make it feel any better, nor is it going to change the condition.

Minorities were born into a society that has spelled out with brutal clarity, in as many ways as possible, that they are worthless human beings. We are not expected to aspire to excellence. We were expected to make peace with ordinariness. We will be fulfilling this prophecy if we allow for inequality in the realm of voting rights. The word integration will mean nothing at all if it ever did.

To attend a speech without a commitment that guarantees change only forces people of color to dream and dream that has no basis for reality. We must cease dreaming and insist on change. The dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. has died, and we cannot continue to placate ourselves into believing that we can continue to live in a fantasy world of the same ideals buried inside his grave in 1968. His dream did not die on its own. The afterthoughts were slowly annihilated by the likes of Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, along with their Intensely selfish allies, whose concerns were guided by their prejudices, not on the good of others. From one part of America to the other, the enemies of justice have created every roadblock possible to circumvent civil rights with the severest of oppositions and the cruelest enmity, where every black and brown body is obliged to face numerous hardships and obstructions. One state after another has obstructed you, and each of them has attempted to hinder your activity and block your progress. We only ask for the rights that the laws of the land have promised, that will assist all people who are entitled to share their voice in the voting booth, their truth, and their choice. Are our leaders who hold the highest authority in the land prepared to remedy the wrong? It will not come from speeches or negotiations but through an executive order proclaiming, “just as each man must have one vote, liberty possessed by one must be possessed by all.”

America claims to be unordinary, and it believes itself unique. It sees itself as the greatest and most principled nation ever to exist, a unique defender standing between the flawless nation of democracy and the tyrants, aggressors, and rivals of a civilized world. We are asked to paint a picture that does not exist. One cannot, at once, declare itself to be great and then claim human fault. By affirming our compatriots’ claims of exceptionalism in earnest, we aim to subject our country to an exceptional moral standard. This is problematic because there exists an apparatus urging us to accept American virtue at face value and not to inquire too much.

The United States of America is the home of all its people, and those who dare to drive a part of its nation to the fringe will be content to remain separate and unequal. Black Voters Matter co-founder LaTosha Brown recently stated, “We don’t need any more photo ops. We need action.”

We have heard about civil rights, deliberated about filibusters, fought for an increase of minimum wage and better schools, protested against wrongs and rampant discrimination, but it is clouded by too many injustices. Now, the issue is not whether we believe in the causes that have been addressed, if we maintain hope in what we have heard, or if we continue to dream in the promises our leaders tell us will someday be a reality. The issue is us, our freedoms, and what this country will become if we continue to be marginalized and left without them.

Khalilah Sabra — MAS Justice Center — Los Angles/ Charlotte/ San Francisco




Dr. Khalilah Sabra, LL.M, (@khalilahsabra): Muslim American Doctorate in International Law, Executive Director (MAS Immigrant Justice Center)

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Khalilah Sabra

Khalilah Sabra

Dr. Khalilah Sabra, LL.M, (@khalilahsabra): Muslim American Doctorate in International Law, Executive Director (MAS Immigrant Justice Center)

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