There have been protests across the cities of United States, and these protests are primarily calling for humanity dignity. It bothers me that such protests consume a country that prides and elevates itself above others as the champion of democracy and the bastion of human rights. Communities of color are demanding and fighting for their inalienable rights which include their right to live, while workers are demanding livable wages.
The government of the United States is at war with its own at home as well others abroad. Blacks and browns at home are being deprived of their essential right to be free simply because of their skin color. At the same time, working class Americans are faced with economic exploitative practices that have sucked out their vitality and human decency. And those abroad are equally feeling the sting of the venom of our military might. Through military prowess we impose freedom on people abroad, the same freedom that people at home are dying and still protesting to achieve.
We occupy countries under the guise of promoting democracy. The only people that have been fooled by this rhetoric are American citizens. Fortunately, however, many Americans are beginning to realize that their government is not moved not by its conscience but by its security and economic interests. As our defense budget proves, we will go through great lengths to preserve those interests.
We are addicted to war; it’s our opium as a nation!
The war we should be fighting, however, should be aimed at correcting the hypocrisy of the founding fathers. The profound words of the Declaration of Independence—“We hold these truths to be self-evident: 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” were equally exploitative in that these words never included women, blacks, and natives. As a matter of fact, blacks were designated as only three-fifths of a person under the first article in the U.S. constitution.
In order for the humanity of blacks to be recognized, they needed the Emancipation Proclamation of 1865. This decree loosed the bonds of slavery, granting freedom to black Americans for the first time in the nation’s history. Yet, this taste of freedom was short lived, coming to an end as a result of the Wormley compromise of 1877.
The Wormley comprise was coined as a result of the controversial presidential election of 1876 between the then Democratic Party nominee, Governor Samuel J. Tilden, the governor of New York and the Republican candidate Rutherford B. Hayes. Governor Tilden was believed to have won the popular votes and was also expected to win the bulk of the electoral votes. But the Republicans contested the elections results in some states – South Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida – anticipating a recount in favor of their party. At this time the U.S. Senate was controlled by the Republican party, while the House was governed by the Democratic Party. Every attempt at resolving the obnoxious controversy that almost divided the country was all to no avail until the Southern Democrats proposed a backroom deal. In this deal, Southern Democrats proposed an immediate end to Reconstruction and the automatic removal of federal troops from the Southern states of Florida, South Carolina, and Louisiana.
In exchange for these conditions, the Southern Democrats promised an unhindered presidency for the Republican candidate Rutherford Hayes. The backroom deal was reached, Rutherford Hayes became the U.S. President and Southern Democrats regained control of the South. Sadly enough, the deal that abruptly ended the taste of freedom for African-Americans was sealed at a hotel owned by an affluent African-American man by the James Wormley, as such the compromise that truncated the freedom of his people was named after him.
Historically, every attempt aimed at the slightest recognition of the humanity of African Americans has largely resisted. After Reconstruction ended, laws such as Jim Crow were passed to prevent African-Americans from improving their status as slaves to human beings. Many black men were re-enslaved through the convict leasing system; others had their businesses destroyed because their success posed a threat to the identity of whites around them. In fact, 60 percent of all lynchings in the United States were of successful, black businessmen.
The struggle of human dignity for African-American has been ridiculously slow in this country; they arrived in chains as slaves, progressed to 3/5 of a human being, and have yet to be recognized as a full person, equal to white Americans. The 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act were passed 188 years and 189 years respectively after the United States declared that “All men are created equal” The killing of blacks by cops in 2014 without indictment vividly tells us that the declaration of independence has not yet been extended to black folks in America.
We must correct this hypocrisy in order to move forward as a nation. From Ferguson, to New York, to Milwaukee, to the Twin Cities, people are demanding that we finally come to see that blacks are fully and completely human. #BlackLivesMatter and for that reason, we must restore the dignity of communities of color and even come to fully acknowledge that indigenous people are the rightful owners of the land. While the work is challenging, it remains a worthy battle that must be fought. Only the power of our examples at home can provide the moral platform upon which we can stand to gain the authority and legitimacy needed in the global community to proselytize democracy and human rights.