Jumping Off - 1st Impression on American Ideals

And then the words  “the land of the free and the home of the brave” written by Francis Scott Key 1814, in his poem  “The Defense of Fort McHenry.” How noble, how uplifting.

These passages sound nice as long as you were/are not black, brown or native American.

But as Bryan Stevenson founder of the Equal Justice Initiative said, "We live in a country that talks about being the home of the brave and the land of the free, and we have the highest incarceration rate in the world."

“We the People” it turns out was a minority of wealthy white men many owning slaves who created the Constitution, and slavery was the crucial obstacle to be overcome in setting up the constitution. The southern states would not give up their rights to own slaves so when the constitution was finally passed it upheld the unequal treatment of enslaved African-Americans, therefore establishing a racial contract. Slaves also factored in 2 calculations: in the wealth they represented as property and in the population, they represented as people.

Route 66

Meanwhile across the Atlantic the British were gearing up to colonize over half the globe civilizing “savages” bringing their “superior” way of life to distant shores. And in England, scientists would argue that whites were inherently more evolved, than their African or Asian counterparts, which justified the abominable treatment of them.

When we see others as less than us, less than human it is amazing the brutality that we can inflict without so much as a second glance.

So Second Impressions: Not so Good! Let’s face it women did not get the vote until the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, and many African American women were not allowed to exercise that freely, because hurdles like poll taxes and literacy tests kept black voters disenfranchised until the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which outlawed discriminatory voting practices. Even today there are those who continue to try to restrict and limit voting rights deliberately targeting African American communities.

 We still have a lot of work to do if we genuinely want to embrace the ideals of this country. But ever the optimist I believe we can do this work!