The country woke up Tuesday morning to the news that Donald Trump plans on eliminating birthright citizenship via an Executive Order. This is yet another blatant leveraging of whiteness to energize Trump’s white working class base. The violence inherent in its worldview means nothing to Trump or those that work with him. This move plainly illustrates that the elevation of white supremacy is fundamental, and a priority. It exposes the lie that the Constitution or any aspirational principles enshrined within it, or any other founding document’s rhetoric, are anything other than distractions for the masses who need something to believe in.
To backup, when we say ‘white supremacy’ we mean the systems and institutions that benefit people who are considered white; ‘white privilege’ meaning the benefits afforded those with the closest proximity to whiteness; and ‘whiteness’ meaning the worldview that comes with white supremacy, which since its creation in anti-miscegenation laws in the 1600’s has sought to divide the laboring class. In the 1600’s the purpose of anti-miscegenation laws was to separate poor whites from poor blacks in the south by making it illegal for an, “English or another white man or woman” to marry a black person (which was common practice before states enacted these laws). This separation meant a divided laboring class that could not find power in numbers to rise up against the ruling English elite. Jump ahead 400 years, and those in power are still using whiteness to divide and separate...
Donald Trump knows that birthright citizenship is a Constitutionally protected right. He knows that within seconds of signing that Executive Order it would be challenged in court and would not go into effect until after it made its way through the system, if at all. So, then, why would he make this grandiose albeit empty gesture? The answer is he is worried about the growing wave of progressive candidates, many of whom are women of color, like Alexandria Ocosio Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Stacey Abrams, Andrew Gulliam and Beto O’Rourke who unapologetically support policies that move us closer to economic and racial justice. Trump’s only recourse is to leverage whiteness to do what whiteness does: divide.
This latest iteration is so incredibly transparent that even the liberal establishment, which resists naming and centering white supremacy like their jobs depend on it (because they often do), is being forced to articulate that truth. Rolling Stone published this piece which discusses the purpose of the 14th Amendment, and CNN’s Don Lemon has become accustomed to arguing Trump is a racist on his show and tied Trump’s antics to the civil rights legacy of the 14th amendment on his show, and even named the fact that white men radicalized to the right are the biggest terror threat the country faces. Steps in the right direction.
Trump’s Executive Order would essentially negate the 14th Amendment. The 14th Amendment states, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” It was adopted after emancipation as a measure to guarantee that formerly enslaved Black people had access to the rights that come with citizenship. It is fundamentally rooted in racial justice, and it is impossible to divorce a challenge to any aspect of the 14th amendment from its racial justice purpose. And Trump knows this as well. That leaves only one possibility for understanding what the end goal is here as well as how to respond.
Trump has never hid what he is about. His actions demonstrate moves toward a white ethnostate by working to rollback any movement made as a society towards the highest ideals of social justice. His words demonstrate desire for an apartheid government that elevates those of us considered white. His father was a Klansman, and he has carried that legacy forward. From discriminatory housing practices, calling for the death penalty for the Central Park 5 and refusing to acknowledge their innocence, to birtherism, xenophobia, and today’s announcement of undercutting the 14th amendment the only question is who is going to tell the emperor he’s butt ass naked. The answer to that is as obvious as Trump’s racism: us, those of us considered white.
Richard Wright famously stated that there was no Negro problem in the United States there’s only a white problem. We flocked to theaters to see the documentary “I’m not your Negro” based on the work of James Baldwin who insisted that we own our own baggage. Yet, so often the vast majority of us neglect to put anything on the line, possibly because it is hard to give up privileged status or because white supremacy and privilege camouflage so well until statements like ending birthrights are thrown out.
It is time for us to stand up and declare an end to white supremacy. An end to the privileges it affords people with a closer proximity to whiteness. An end to the worldview it produces: whiteness. We need to enthusiastically support policies that put forward radical solutions that redistribute wealth and power such as: universal basic income, abolition of all debt, universal health care, free college, the returning of land to Native people, an end to the fossil fuel economy, and financial reparations to the descendants of enslaved Africans whom facilitated the wealth this country currently enjoys. We are days away from the next election, an important way to exercise our power is to vote, and to vote for justice.