An official in Portland, Oregon, where flag-burning and riots have become a feature of the city’s urban culture, has denounced the Constitution and its Bill of Rights for their supposedly “inherently white supremacist ideologies.”
In a recent Op-Ed on the city of Portland’s official website, Markisha Smith, the director of Portland’s Office of Equity and Human Rights, maintained that “We the People” — the Constitution’s opening words — “was not talking about my people, Black people, and that the Bill of Rights was not created to be a set of rights that protected Black folx.”
She noted that as a child, she had written school assignments on the Constitution but “[a]t this point in my development, I was not reflecting on the inherently white supremacist ideologies of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”
Smith suggested her concerns over the supposedly racist nature of America’s founding documents sprang not from nightly riots, but from when she witnessed a “stream of trucks and cars with Trump and American flags whipping and flying in the air behind them.
“A feeling of anxiousness settled into the pit of my stomach as I thought about this moment in history we are experiencing and how the ideologies of the Preamble, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were and have been on full display for the world to see.”
The sight of Trump supporters led her to conclude that the “Constitution is being used to justify acts of hate, injustice, white supremacy, and anti-Black racism.
“The words of the Constitution are being used to allow hate speech, acts of violence, and seemingly harmless flags to fly, which are in reality rooted in racism, to caravan across our city and create tension and discord—to incite destruction and slaughter,” she wrote.
Smith deplored the “injustice Black folx experience in every facet of every system in this carefully designed, white supremacists framework.”
“Leaders note that Freedom of Speech, as part of the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution is a right of Americans in this country. Yet, this freedom of speech permits hate speech and symbols of hatred towards Black folx that are a threat to our physical, mental, and emotional safety,” she wrote.
The Second Amendment was in for a trashing as well.
Smith claimed the Second Amendment allows “Americans the freedom to bear weapons — gun violence at the hands of law enforcement officials towards Black folx plays out on our news and social media feeds frequently.
“And, white Americans have taken this constitutional right to mean policing their neighborhoods and shooting innocent Black people,” she wrote.
After finding shortcomings elsewhere, Smith said that “in reality neither the Constitution nor its amendments were created for the benefit of Black and Brown bodies in this country.”
In addressing the police, she wrote that “[m]uch of what I noted in the Amendments/Bill of Rights/Constitution has resulted in violations against and the death of Black people in America at the hands of law enforcement.”
Implying that the structure of law enforcement in America was created to enforce white supremacy, she wrote: “Is it possible that we admit the system isn’t broken, functions as it was intended to function, and commit ourselves to changing it to function in ways that also serve Black folx?”
Smith concluding with attacks on America’s founding documents in the form of questions.
“Does this Constitution serve everyone in our country?” she wrote. “And if not, why are we continuing to use it as a justification for racist, hate-filled acts of violence?
“Is this really democracy? Who is holding us accountable? The founding fathers are long gone — who has replaced them as the monitoring agent?
“And, does Black life matter enough to make us move bravely and boldly towards something different?”
In a June interview with Willamette Week, Smith talked of race relations as a case of intense hatred against black Americans.
“While we anxiously await a vaccination to protect against the coronavirus, we are not looking for a vaccination for racism,” she said, “because that would mean removing power and privilege, acknowledging the hate that people carry in the very fabric of their souls for black folks.”
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