Land of the Free and Home of the Brave?

Land of the free and home of the brave. Is that really what the American people represent, especially in times like today? As someone who has grown up their whole life seeing, hearing, and observing the dynamics of such a diverse and ever-changing nation, I haven’t found this to be the case.    

In school, we were spoon fed patriotism as we sang the pledge of allegiance each morning before diving into studies of the American Revolution and the courage of The Founding Fathers. What is taught as Manifest Destiny during the Westward Expansion should be taught as genocide of Indigenous peoples. The end of the Civil War should not be taught as the end of racism in the United States, when the news is still flooding with stories of racially charged hate crimes and police brutality. This narrative is dangerous and manifests a culture that is oppressive furthers the inherent privilege of certain groups.  

In the reality of some, their own ignorance creates no consequences. They don’t see the issues that are impacting millions of Americans so greatly and frequently. Just yesterday, I was reminded of the severity of this issue when I was talking to one of my friends here at Denison. On her Instagram story she had posted a link to a petition to support Rodney Reed, an African American man who has been living on death row and is to face execution later this month for the rape and murder of a woman, despite the plethora of evidence proving his innocence. One of her boyfriends’ friends responded to her story saying to “chop that n***as head off”. To say we were appalled would an understatement. She quickly responded to him voicing her disappointment and disgust for any person who could think to speak in such a hurtful and derogatory manor. She then took to her boyfriend, still feeling extremely hurt and disrespected as not only is this fully unacceptable rhetoric, but half of her family is African American and have been facing slurs and hate speech like this for generations, just to hear him say that she needs to take it up with the friend because it was an issue between them two. This response left us astonished. How could someone sit back and hear this and not feel compelled to do or say anything? 

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Issues like this are issues that must be addressed and fought for, the injustice that many marginalized communities face on an everyday basis is not to be tolerated in a country that prides itself in its fight for justice. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said in his Letter from Birmingham Jail, “lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection”. There is no room for complacency. To make strides towards achieving a world where people can live equally, this must be a fight that is fought not just by the oppressed, but by all of the ‘free’ and ‘brave’ American people. 

 

King, Martin Luther. “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” 16 Apr. 1963. Web. 9 Nov. 2019.