THIS LAND IS WHOSE LAND?

Author:Tempus, Alexandra
Position:COMMENT
 
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In April, at a bookstore in the heart of our nation's capital, a small group of white supremacists interrupted an event being held for a new release, a book called Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America's Heartland.

Just as author Jonathan Metzl began commenting on "how much stronger America is when we think about our responsibility to people in need," the group made its way to the front. "This land is our land! This land is our land!" they shouted percussively, shaking their fists in the air with each syllable before quickly storming out.

"They're illustrating my point," Metzl later told The Washington Post.

The incident also brings into focus a reality that undergirds much of our politics and history, often invisibly From colonization and the forced removal of indigenous peoples, to civil rights-era redlining, to modern-day gerrymandering and gentrification--where Americans live, or are allowed to live, has defined this country as much as any national boundary. As we grapple with the horrors of migrant concentration camps and the heightened militarization of our borders, we must also recognize and address the many physical lines drawn within this country that marginalize and harm people, citizens and not, from sea to shining sea.

Though you may not realize it, this subject is front-and-center in the national conversation. As you'll read elsewhere in this issue of The Progressive, the U.S. Supreme Court recently weighed in on two major where-we-live cases. In one, it stepped aside on gerrymandering, declaring that it is up to individual states to address the issue of politicians drawing the boundary lines for their own districts, often securing their positions of power.

In another, it ruled against the Trump Administration's plan to add a citizenship question to the U.S. Census. The Census, of course, is used to determine the amount of federal funding funneled to and the number of political representatives for various states and municipalities based on their demographics.

"The Census tells us who we are and where we are going as a nation," its website proclaims. But places with larger populations of noncitizens--who by now may be too scared to fill out the Census in the first place--stand to lose out.

Redlining--the practice of banks denying loans to prospective home buyers in majority-minority areas--has also come hurling back to the forefront. After a year-long analysis based on thirty-one million...

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