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—by Tamika Mallory
After the Civil War, recently freed slaves were granted citizenship by the 14th Amendment, which said all children born in the United States were, indeed, Americans. It took 250 years for the people who were stolen from their homelands and brought here to work the fields, build the houses, feed the families, and raise the babies of the colonizers to be recognized as citizens of the country that was built with their own hands. As we know, it would take another 100 years for black folks to be able to fully exercise those rights of citizenship.
Trump recently tweeted about his plans to trash the 14th Amendment and end birthright citizenship --the practice of recognizing the citizenship of children who are born here -- with an executive order. In typical fashion, he told a lie in order to stoke nationalist fear, claiming the U.S. is the only country that grants citizenship to children born to non-citizen parents, when in fact the majority of nations have policies similar to ours.
Who gets birth rights to a country that was built on land that was stolen from Native Americans, with the forced slave labor of millions of Africans, with a long and violent history of lifting up the select few while denying others basic humanity? A country colonized and watered with the blood of our ancestors? Wakanda would never…
Funny thing is, four of Trump's five children were born to immigrant women. He's currently married to an immigrant whose parents just recently received their U.S. citizenship through their daughter. We're talking about a man who enjoys the benefits of staffing his businesses with immigrants -- literally building his fortune on cheap labor provided by folks from other countries. A man who is, himself, the son and grandson of immigrants.
If we're keeping it real, Trump already told us that he believes only white European immigrants should gain access to citizenship. He called the rest of the world "shithole countries" and said we should take in more immigrants from Sweden -- a country that ironically has twice as many immigrants living within its borders as the U.S. does.
When challenged on his power to override the Constitution, Trump threatened that birthright citizenship "will be ended one way or the other." He's already shown that he'll stop at nothing to enforce his nationalistic view of the way our country should be, including separating babies from parents and putting them in cages.
Kanye and Kim Kardashian have claimed that they're working with Trump to make sure that he passes criminal justice reform initiatives. Yet, outside of the one very important exoneration of Alice Marie Johnson, no criminal justice reform effort has materialized. And it probably won't. What is actually going on is a sinister ploy as old as this country: To use black people against black people. When black people were held in slavery, the white plantation owners were fraternizing with us solely for their personal gain. Trump used Kanye for the purposes of this election. He used him to normalize abnormality, to make the horrible appear acceptable.
Tomorrow, as the country watches the results from the polls, Trump may not be on the ballot himself, but there are a number of Republicans running who have swore their loyalty to carrying out his mission. Trump and the Republicans want to create in the minds of black people -- an undeniably large and powerful voting bloc -- that it's not all as bad as we activists say it is. What they can't do by actual policy, they will do by manipulating tokenism and appearing to have the approval of some part of the black community. It's unfortunate that Kanye's struggles with mental illness have been abused in this public manner.
I know that people are tired of hearing about Republicans versus Democrats. To many folks, the Democrats have often dropped the ball for us, so why should they automatically get our vote? This is a moral moment, a moral vote, and we must vote for our interests. What we're up against right now goes beyond politics and deep into the issues that affect us on a personal level.
There are also landmark decisions that will be made by ballot initiatives tomorrow. In Ohio, Issue 1 would mean far less people being sent to prison for drug use, reducing small quantity possession from a felony to a misdemeanor. In Alabama, voters will decide on Amendment 2, which could grant the state power to ban abortion if changes are made at the federal level. The judges and District Attorneys that will be elected will have a direct impact on how we deal with police brutality and sentencing reform. Many local races are centering on the importance of access to education, healthcare, and a living wage.
I can promise you this, we are living through a crucial moment for anyone invested in real change. This moment, while tumultuous, is pregnant with possibility. It may be that people in this moment are so woke, so angry, and so involved, that we shift American politics forever. I believe in us. And because I am confident that we are about to do this, now all we have to do is figure out how we stay involved.
Over the last few weeks, I've been writing to you about several important states and races that we need to focus on winning in November. You can ask me any final question you want by going on REVOLT TV's IG story and submitting a question.
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