Opinion: Dems to African-American Women: This Time We Mean It

So why was Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee, making an appearance at this year’s Essence Festival in New Orleans, an event known for its high-powered mix of music, culture and empowerment, geared to engage black women globally? Did he see and enjoy “Girls Trip,” the 2017 mega-hit about the reunion of four black female buddies, set against the backdrop of the festival, and decide to get in on the fun, maybe take in a Janet Jackson concert?

Or was he connecting with his party’s most loyal base, which has carried the electoral load for years, and has also expressed dissatisfaction when that contribution was downplayed or overlooked?

Opinion: Even When Process Is Due, It May Not Mean Justice

I remember it so clearly, though I was just a girl when the 1960s scene unfolded: My parents returning from a church dance in good spirits and being met with bad news and a bit of hysteria from the rest of the family. My brother Tony had been arrested for wanting to be seated and served at the Double T Diner in my home state of Maryland.

My parents and members of Tony’s civil rights group were able to get Tony home; my parents had the deed to the house ready, in case they needed it for bail.

And it was all legal, all done with “due process,” following the trespass laws of the time that allowed segregation in public businesses whose owners decided which members of the public they served. Thanks to the efforts of activists like my three oldest siblings — who broke the rules they and many others believed were unjust and contrary to America’s ideals — those laws are no longer on the books.

Opinion: Trump May Have American Carnage, but Biden Has American Corny

You know the lights may be dimming on the American experiment when Attorney General Jeff Sessions resurrects an abbreviated Bible passage that slaveholders once used to justify selling children away from parents to justify separating children from parents on America’s Southern border and then parses the difference between his “zero tolerance” plans and Nazi tactics — as a defense. Leaving aside that using any interpretation of the Bible (or the Koran or any holy book) in setting government policy slides awfully close to a theocracy, this is strong stuff.

And don’t forget the 2018 version of the Pips — Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller and Kirstjen Nielsen — singing backup to their official and unofficial leader on immigration, with special guest Corey Lewandowski adding his signature mocking “womp, womp” refrain.

Under pressure and mindful of the optics, if not the empathy gap, the president on Wednesday said he would use an executive order to end his administration’s family separation policy. But the hallmark of U.S. leadership remains government by grievance and division, driven by a belief that certain human beings are not quite human and do not even merit the tiniest bit of concern.

Opinion: Supreme Court Resurrects the ‘Purge,’ and McConnell Saw It Coming

It was a brilliant and, opponents would say, devious move by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: Stall, obstruct and block President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court replacement for the late Antonin Scalia.

That pick, Judge Merrick Garland, once a thoroughly acceptable and moderate choice to many Republicans, never had a chance in a ramped-up partisan atmosphere. Instead, the next president, Donald Trump, appointed conservative Neil Gorsuch, with immediate and long-lasting repercussions, this week reaching into the voting booth.

By a 5-4 vote in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, the conservatives on the court reaffirmed an Ohio law an appeals court had rejected as being a violation of the National Voter Registration Act, which says states cannot purge voters for failing to vote but can figure out how to remove those who have moved or died from the list. The state — a crucial battleground — has a particularly stringent test, using failure to vote in a single federal election cycle as the trigger to start the process.

Opinion: Don’t Expect to See Bill Clinton Campaigning for Hopeful Democrats

In the Wednesday morning quarterbacking after Hillary Clinton’s unexpected loss to Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential race, one criticism was that she had not employed that consummate politician former President Bill Clinton enough in her campaign, to speak to “the people” he could connect with and she could not.

But for all the mistakes the Clinton 2016 campaign operation and the candidate herself made — and there were plenty — sidelining Bill was not one of them.

Opinion: No Holiday in the United States of Exhaustion

In overworked America, with national holidays too few and far between, citizens look forward to each one. Memorial Day, especially, is a time of unity — a day to honor those who have served and sacrificed, without regard to political party or philosophy.

This year, though, that always delicate truce seemed particularly fraught.

Memorial Day 2018 resembled a Monday like too many others — the beginning of a week of sniping and fighting and irreconcilable views of what it means to be a patriot in these anything but United States. It also was a reminder that my commentary on the intersection of politics, culture and race is so spot-on, it’s depressing, and that those common experiences that Americans imagined we all shared were a mirage — if they were ever real.

Opinion: A Not Entirely Unexpected Campaign Roadblock for Women of Color

The women of color who are still standing in an electoral slog that ends in November know their road to continued success will be hard. This is the United States, and the fact that they are still pioneers for getting this far in 2018 is not just news-making but also a little depressing.

It is also true that they can’t always count on the support of some of the same feminists they may have joined — in marches, #MeToo protests and the ballot box.

Opinion: Is It Too Early for North Carolina Democrats to Get Their Hopes Up, Again?

In 2008, Barack Obama’s slim North Carolina victory in his first presidential run had Democrats in the state celebrating in the present and dreaming of a blue future in what had been considered a (relatively) progressive Southern state. Boy, were those dreams premature.

But 10 years later — after new redistricting and voting rules solidified GOP control in both the state and U.S. House delegations and a bill on LGBT rights made the state a poster child for conservative social policies — Democrats are again seeing light at the end of a deep-red tunnel.

Opinion: What Is the Cost When the Language of Politics Devolves?

Who would have imagined that the term “breeding” to refer to human beings would be making a comeback? Seen through a cynical lens, it is a useful word when, step by insidious step, one wants to deem some people as inherently less — and thus deserving of less — than other Americans.

Opinion: We Just Can’t Shake That Old-Time Religion

“Bless your heart” is a phrase I got to know well when I moved from the Northeast to the South several years ago. Though often spoken in soft, sympathetic tones, there was nothing blessed about the sentiment. And when those three syllables were delivered in an email, usually after I wrote a column a reader did not like, they landed like a punch to the gut.

Oddly enough, it was commentary on faith and values that elicited quite a bit of high dudgeon, topped only by the historically reliable topic of race, which, like religion, carries the taint of a North versus South, “them” against “us” spiritual split.

It was no surprise, then, that one of the most recent dust-ups in the sandbox called the U.S. House of Representatives was over religion — most specifically, the faith, message and suitability of the chamber’s chaplain — or that it, too, had its share of regional side-choosing.