Interpreting the Founding Fathers’ wishes is a staple of American political discourse. Constitutional originalism is more of a conservative thing, but really, Founding Father mindreading cuts across the ideological spectrum. The Founding Fathers would have hated partisanship (History) or Trump (Foreign Policy) or gun control (History) or not having gun control (HuffPost). Obama informed us, helpfully, that the Founding Fathers didn’t want presidents to serve three year terms (ABC). The Atlantic told us the Founders would have been especially disgusted by Trump’s pardon of the former owner of the San Francisco 49ers (The Atlantic).
But white supremacy is a system, not a collection of individuals acts of white violence. This system depends on settler-colonialism and the continued theft of indigenous land, on the enslavement and incarceration of Black people, and on xenophobia and neocolonialism against those identified as foreign, like Asian people. That it may be non-white people who uphold racism against other communities of color doesn’t mean it isn’t white supremacy. It means that white supremacy is a strong social system that structures our beliefs and lives, whether we are white or not.
Last week, Abdul-Aliy Muhammad published an article in The Philadelphia Inquirer outlining some disturbing news: Penn Museum and Princeton University has been holding the remains of two children killed in the MOVE bombing of 1985 hostage for 36 years – without the consent or consideration of their family.
But behind each hashtag is a person. This time, his name was Jonathan Price. He was a 31-year-old from Wolfe City, Texas, a small town outside Dallas. He was a “motivational speaker, a mentor to student-athletes in the area, and a frequent participant in community service activities” (Yahoo News). He was beloved by his community. And on October 3rd, he defused a fight he witnessed between a man and a woman at a convenience store. For his intervention, he was killed. To be more precise: on October 3rd, a police officer, a Texas Ranger, murdered an unarmed Jonathan Price as he walked away from the scene (Washington Post).