Defeat over Citizenship Question May Add Fuel to President’s Ire

Defeat over Citizenship Question May Add Fuel to President’s Ire

Since taking office the Trump administration has been in overdrive attempting to stem the inevitable rising tide of color washing across this nation that will eventually wretch power and control from a “white supremacy” mindset that continues to cripple the nation. 

The administration and its supporters have sought to fend off this inevitability by demonizing dark people, working to restrict the power of their vote and equally as suppressing—adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census to assure an undercount of immigrants and minorities.  

The inclusion of a citizenship question was one of the most powerful weapons in the administration’s arsenal of strategies and tactics designed to limit the political power of the country’s growing minority communities. It was clearly intended to maximize the undercount of minorities that historically occurs whenever an enumeration is taken. 

Census undercounts are debilitating to minority, mostly poor communities as it impacts the number of federal dollars allocated to them for important programs and can limit their share of congressional representation. 

The threatened inclusion of a citizenship question stirred added fear in the hearts of immigrant communities already under attack by the administration and helped forge a strong coalition of minority groups determined to prevent it. 

The potential question raised red flags among immigrant families where some have documents and others do not. Such fear was certain to result in fewer immigrants being counted even though the constitution expressively states everyone in the country at the time of enumeration—both citizens and non-citizens—must be included. The question was one more blatant attempt to undercut people of color.  

The American mindset of white supremacy includes the perpetuation of fear among its arsenal of options to limit the scope of political power certain to accrue to the rising tide of color washes across this nation. 

Whether limiting the number of Black and Brown immigrants allowed to enter the country, suppressing minority votes through gerrymandering, reducing the number of early voting days or purging voter roles on the one hand, or working to reduce participation in the census on the other, such actions serve as perfect book ends to one of their most successful and sinister strategies—the imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of Black and Brown men, women and children.

The imprisonment of minorities in America serves a dual purpose. Firstly, the nation’s prisons, disproportionately filled with minorities, are usually located in predominately White, sparsely populated areas. When the census is taken, it gives these communities the benefit of a larger share of federal dollars because their populations are boosted by Black and Brown prison inmates. 

These communities also benefit from congressional seat allocations—again, because of the inflated population counts resulting from the prison populations in their jurisdictions. Yet, those elected to represent these regions are predictably Republican and rarely represent the interest of those incarcerated or people of color in general. 

In the meantime, the populations of minority communities from which these inmates originated are reduced. As a result, their allocation of federal program dollars and congressional representation is restricted/reduced pushing these communities further into poverty with less congressional representation to advocate for their interests. 

The strategy of mass incarceration takes on an added level of exploitation when you consider the privatization of these prison facilities that has allowed large corporations to charge exorbitant fees to house  inmates who are usually kept in deplorable conditions, fed substandard food, charged outrageous fees to make calls, provided limited medical care and often mentally and physically abused. 

They are further victimized by being forced to work for pennies on the dollar while the companies who contract for their services make millions. And even after they have served their time, they remain locked out of the political discourse because as ex-felons they are not allowed to vote, and have difficulty securing employment and/or housing. This cycle of exploitation is graphically and aptly described in Michelle Alexander’s seminal work, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. 

America’s prison industrial complex has fulfilled the wildest dreams of white supremacists even exceeding benefits previously reaped from the institution of chattel slavery.  

I present all of this to highlight the attempted inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census not an isolated tactic disguised as a way to “make America great again,” but rather part of a broader strategy that has evolved over decades to maintain power and control—fueled by a white supremacy  mindset. The nation’s evolution to a country where most of its citizens are people of color has been foretold since the 1890s. Even the description “minority-majority or “majority-minority” is a way of verbally undermining  what is really happening—America will soon be a country with a “White-minority” population—for some White Americans, certainly not all,  just the sound of the phrase “white minority” is frightening. 

The question is, why? Why is there so much fear? Afterall, people are people…we are all created equal. Isn’t that what Thomas Jefferson wrote… “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” Isn’t that the cornerstone of American democracy? It is the same cornerstone white supremacists have failed to embrace regarding people of color.   

This week the Trump administration and its supporters suffered a humiliating defeat when they were unable to navigate around the Supreme Court’s exposure of their laughable rationale for adding a citizenship question to the Census—they tried to insist it was to protect voting rights.  

Last Thursday the president was forced to admit there was no way around the ruling. Trump did so by boasting in lieu of a citizenship question he would now demand the Commerce Department gather immigrant data by collecting the information through reports, etc., even though everyone knew the department was previously tasked to do so regardless of the census. 

Some scoffed at the president’s weak and failed attempt to “snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.” Once again, everyone saw the emperor has no cloths. 

The defeat however may only prompt the president to take more aggressive actions to save face. As a result, the worst may be yet to come—what’s happening in immigration prison camps today may be a mere foreshadowing of greater challenges, even beyond his call to round up and deport thousands.

Trump does not display the type of personality that can graciously or even ingloriously accept defeat. Instead, he may be prone to take more vengeful actions to assuage his bruised and childish ego. Everyone should remain vigilant.   

Of course, this is just my opinion. I’m keeping it real. 

S.E. Williams

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