My grandfather used to say “Clarity comes from remembering where you came from; understanding where you want to go; and discovering how you will get there.”
If we view this nation as a single entity… a single unit… or maybe perhaps a Union? We can apply those questions to find clarity for it.
Where have we come from?
Our country’s past is covered in red stripes of glory and fireworks of pride. We often forget the innocent blood that paints those stripes and the bullets and anguish felt by many. The same way that some are proud of their ancestry claiming to descend from George Washington himself, the Father of our nation, others hail from beings who were once considered property.
African slaves first arrived on the British colony of Virginia in 1619. Ever since then, this land has been plagued by racial tension. The Stono Rebellion of 1739 occurred when slaves took their destinies into their own hands and sought freedom by marching from South Carolina to Spanish Florida. The New York Conspiracy of 1741 was when slaves had enough and decided to plot and take over the city of New York. Gabriel’s Rebellion of 1800 was an especially important event because all those who plotted to seek their liberty were hung and legislation was passed to prohibit the education and assembly to prevent similar rebellions from occurring again. Likewise, legislation is being enforced today to continue the suppression of Black Americans.
In all those countless rebellions, no connection was ever made between the virtue of these oppressed people and the colonists who opposed the British Empire. In 1776, the colonists sent a petition to their King for equal liberties, and the King responded that all those who oppose the crown shall be viewed as traitors and shall be hung. It is a common theme in American History for those who seek liberty and justice to be labeled as rebels, even today.
Since the Declaration of Independence, all men (or persons) have continued to be born equal, however they are not treated so in this nation. Black Americans have continuously pleaded for the civil liberties that was granted to their White American counterparts centuries before.
The only thing that has changed is that regulation of human bodies has now become the regulation of human minds. The killings, mistreatment, and injustices that occur every day have been ignored for too long.
Our nation has been facing a battle that may seem like a dark hour today, but it has indeed been a dark few centuries. We got here when certain humans believed they were superior to others. The assault on human freedom had continued for 246 years on this soil. It wasn’t until June 19, 1865 that people who had been slaves in the farthest reaches of Texas learned that human slavery had become an illegal offense. It has only been 155 years since slavery ended and on this anniversary we are still seeing aftershocks of such a terrifying event in our nation’s history.
The amount of years that slavery existed in this country still heavily outweighs the amount of years Black Americans have been given freedom. To make matters worse, themes of their oppression still linger.
This is how we got here.
Where do we want to go from this?
Some may say, “whose words are better to follow than the words of founding fathers who wrote the constitution?” Well, Thomas Jefferson wrote “all men are created equal” despite owning 700 slaves. To this day, people who believe in civil liberties continuously contradict it with their actions (or lack thereof).
My fellow Americans shout on the street of every major city with the phrase “Know Justice, Know Peace” and “No Justice, No Peace.” Peace is where we want to go. Peace is what needs to be created. Only peace can replace the civil unrest and suffering that has gone on long enough.
How do we get there?
As my fellow Americans chanted “Know Justice, Know Peace.” If justice prevails, peace shall prevail as well. Justice needs to be upheld. We need justice. Justice for all those who have suffered for hundreds of years. Racism has guised itself in the cloak of justice for far too long. If we all feel the pain of our fellow Americans, and we truly want justice and peace, we must exercise our civic duties to retrieve clarity: legislation that will protect those who have been oppressed by systemic racism.
It isn’t easy or else it would have been done long ago but it must be done. Our nation cannot rise until we know Justice. Our nation cannot rise until we know peace.
Let’s make it so.