Black history is not just some polite tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. during February. Black history is our history, American history. Native American history is our history. Our story. We—this generation—we have inherited all of this legacy.
We come from enslaved people and we come from those who enslaved them. We are the ones whose land was stolen and we are the ones who stole it. We are the ones who were lynched and we are the ones who lynched them. We are the people whose labor built the railroads and we are the ones who recruited them, worked them and excluded their families from joining them. We are the immigrants. And we are the ones who ostracized immigrants for sounding different, looking different, being different. We are the ones who were rounded up into internment camps during World War II and we are the ones who rounded them up.
We are also the abolitionists of both races who demanded an end to slavery. We are the Freedom Riders. We are the stewards of the Peace Pipe who have kept it intact and passed it down for 19 generations. We are the workers who insisted on fair wages and safe conditions. We are the reformers who changed the laws and we are the protestors who called out the need for reform.
We come from villains and victims and visionaries. We come from the mean-spirited and the big-hearted. We come from those driven by greed and those inspired by justice.
The question is… where will we go from here?
We are like a family whose members are each locked in their own room. We cannot be whole, living like this. We cannot fully function when we keep ourselves apart from one another. It’s time to unlock the doors and really look at the conditions we’ve created for ourselves. The slum is a prison of poverty, but the palace is a prison of lies. Neither one is healthy.
What do we choose for ourselves? Do we choose the path to wholeness and health? Do we choose to really look at what is happening, to look at what has happened and forge a better path for ourselves?
The alternative is not pretty. Maintaining the status quo is not possible—it’s based on a lie and therefore unsustainable. No one people is inherently superior to the others. We are all people. And since we cannot maintain this charade, we either disintegrate or integrate. The choice is ours.
The truth is, we can pull together and learn how to live up to our founding principles. This country was built on a beautiful dream, a dream that even our forefathers didn’t fully understand:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all [people] are created equal… ~ Declaration of Independence
It’s time for us to reclaim the true essence of this dream and make it a reality.