We are all aware of the racist history of the Constitution. In its original inception, it made concessions to white slaveholders in the Southern states. From that, we got things like The Great Compromise and the Electoral College. In truth, there was nothing great about these concessions except the magnitude of the moral failing they represented, the legacy of which still dogs American government and culture today.
Much of the legislative racism in the Constitution was undone with the passage of the 13th and 15th Amendments, but racism still lurks within. Consider, for instance, that a person must be a natural-born citizen of the United States in order to qualify for the presidency. On its surface, this may seem arbitrary, but not racist. But, it is racist.
White people make up about 62% of the population of the United States. Estimates vary depending on definitions of whiteness, but there are approximately 1.3 billion white people worldwide out of a total population of about 7.4 billion. If we exclude the 323 million people in the United States from these numbers, that means that, outside the United States, there are about 1.1 billion white people out of 7.1 billion people in the rest of the world, which represents about 15.5%. In other words, a random person from the United States is about four times more likely to be white than a random person from somewhere in the rest of the world.
This qualification for the presidency is racist because it privileges whiteness disproportionately when it comes to who can hold the most powerful office on Earth. There is no rational argument to be made to support this archaic law, unless you are operating from the premise that whiteness should be privileged. In fact, the law hamstrings the United States, because it means objectively superior candidates in terms of intelligence, moral character, experience, judgment, and other qualities we would hope for in a president cannot qualify to hold the office, forcing the American people to choose from a pool of less competent politicians. This is especially the case when we think of how so many of the best and brightest from abroad come to America to chase their dreams. While this presidential qualification may not be labelled “affirmative action,” it is unequivocally an affirmation of white supremacy.
This is a straightforward, concrete example of white supremacy in action in the very documents that lay out American governance. The fingerprints of white supremacy are everywhere in our institutions, but we continue to refuse to speak about them openly and honestly. This qualification for the presidency should be eliminated. It serves no purpose. Virtually everyone the world around is familiar with American culture, and anyone who passes our citizenship examinations likely knows more about American government than a great many people who were born here. All this is is a piece of America’s racist legacy, and all it does is tell immigrants, many of whom immigrated here as little children, whose memories are entirely of a life in America, that “you’re not really one of us.”