America, Why are you Pretending?

By A. Martin

When one thinks of you, America, what comes to mind? Freedom? Patriotism? Power? Wealth? What about, Opportunity? Equality, and Justice? People all over the world might agree that these characteristics describe you and proclaim that they are the reason you are the greatest country in the world.   If you were an entertainer on the world stage, you would need no introduction.  But there is a group of people who have been trying to tell the truth about you for over 400 years. The truth is that you have been lip-syncing your whole life.  America, why are you pretending? Do you have what it takes to live up to your reputation?

You gave birth to one of the biggest contradictions in humanity. During and after the Revolutionary War, you held in one hand the Declaration of Independence which represented freedom and justice for all. In the other hand, you held chains and whips, which represented tyranny and captivity over African Americans. You fought a war for your pursuit of freedom and happiness alongside African Americans. Yet, you withheld and denied happiness from them almost every time they came close to obtaining it and denied their freedom constantly. 

African Americans were liberated from the institution of slavery thanks to the Union’s victory over the Confederates in the Civil War. Freedom and justice for all, finally! Right? Not quite. To put it simply, America, when you were liberated after the Revolutionary War, there were systems created for your progression, the creation of an economic system, the constitution, and many more. When African Americans were set “free,” there were systems created for their regression. Certain policies that enabled opportunities for the creation of generations of wealth for Caucasians excluded African Americans across the board. There were inequalities and discrimination within employment, housing, education, and so much more. The effects of these systems are just as prevalent in the African American community today as are the enduring mental and physical effects of slavery.

History shows that in every war you have fought, never have African Americans merely sat by.  They have consistently, loyally, and bravely fought for you and for your principles. Whether by draft or choice, African Americans did everything that Caucasians did when it came to defending your freedom and independence. Yet again, African Americans were excluded from most perks and privileges created for veterans postwar. For instance, the GI bill benefited only Caucasians which helped them gain economical leverage in the postwar years. It helped create growing gaps of wealth, education, and civil rights between the races. However, America, you tell African Americans that they should be proud of the flag, sing the national anthem with their hands over their hearts, and be appreciative to be born in a country where they are free and have unlimited opportunities. You say, if they can’t be grateful, they can leave. They can leave the country that was built on the backs of their ancestors. Really, America?

America, you point to your Bill of Rights to show that everyone is equal before the law, and therefore everyone should respect the law and enforcers of the law. You congratulate yourself that everyone suspected of a crime has the right to a trial, and only if they are found guilty by a jury of their peers would they be subject to punishment, including possible execution. However, your law enforcement officers are killing citizens without a trial, and the rate of African Americans being killed during police engagements are much higher than the rate of white and other ethnic groups. This has been the case since the beginning of policing in America. The video footage of these killings show that African Americans are killed even when complying with law enforcement whereas Caucasians can expect to survive even blatant and violent noncompliance with police. Police officers who take the life of an African American during an engagement rarely are investigated or face any consequences for their actions. This atrocity by police officers happens so often, it is as if it is their duty to kill African Americans without regard for their basic civil rights you hold so dear. You expect African Americans to respect laws that show no respect for them.  African Americans and their allies, have been speaking out, protesting, crying, dying, and trying to get you, America, to open your eyes to this injustice. Bill of Rights? Declaration of Independence? Where are you for African Americans?

Where is the American Revolution for African Americans, America? It has been 244 years since you published the notion in your Declaration of Independence that “…all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” But here you are, 244 years later, calling the National Guard when African Americans say that their lives matter.  You continue to put endless obstacles in the way of their pursuit of happiness.

There is no nation without flaws because they are governed by people with flaws. America, because of your wonderful ideals there isn’t another nation like you. For them, you have been brave. For them, you have fought. For them, you have conquered. Because of them, you have grown to be the most powerful of all nations. Please, don’t let it be a lie anymore. Even though you have failed to live up to your ideals for hundreds of years, it does not mean you cannot start now. It is simple. Make Equality, Freedom, Opportunity, Liberty and Justice for ALL. Because Black Lives Matter. Look around.  They have always mattered.

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