“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…” — U.S. Declaration of Independence Preamble, 1776
More than 240 years later, the Negro still is not free. Not free to live without fear of being shot. Not free to live without being murdered by a cop.
Not free to live life the way you can when you are American in white — not black — skin. This is my American sin.
As sure as my American flag flutters in the summer wind, I am cognizant of this truth. Always painfully aware of the skin I’m in.
Mindful of the glass house of liberty — always susceptible to being suddenly shattered by bricks of hate hurled sometimes seemingly at every turn in this psychosocial maze. By the insults, innuendo and racial realities that pelt or painfully graze.
By the hard truth that will not allow me to forget that for blacks in America justice surely has been too long delayed. That it ain’t right. It just is. And that this unholy matrimony of racial inequality was perhaps sealed long ago with this nation’s kiss.
I am aware of the prevailing pre-narrative about black folks in America. About every black male slain by thug or cop. That “he” must have had coming what he eventually got.
It is a demented tale about who we are and whence we came. That perceives our worth and existence as inconsequential and counts us as America’s bane.
The “justification” for the killing of us, therefore, is still simple and plain. Whether Philando Castile. Eric Garner or Tamir Rice. Sandra Bland. Or Trayvon Martin… There is still no justice for black life.
This great hate is pervasive even among my own. Brothers slaying brothers, perpetuating hatred’s song — aware that black life still means less. That the names of slain black children we soon forget.
That you can get away with murder because the powers that be don’t really care. As long as “we” keep it in the hood and it doesn’t spill over there.
Here lately, amid this perennial bloodshed, I am at a loss for words. As Independence Day approaches, I find it absurd that freedom’s bell still does not ring for us. After all these years, and great strides: from the 13th Amendment to Civil Rights to the end of segregation on the bus.
Liberty is still a game of cat and mouse. Racism remains at the foundation of this American house.
This is my story, my lament, my song as a black man in America continuing to sojourn…
I awake to the fire of anxiety coursing through my veins. To news of the latest black homicide and the reality that the common denominator in the murder and destruction of us — whether by police or by my own brothers — is us.
My soul is singed by the fires of hate: Our own self-hate. By America’s hypocrisy of hate — that kisses the flag but spits in the face of citizens of color who are denied life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That embraces some sons and daughters more, and others less.
By one nation under God that praises a loving, righteous Creator on Sunday. But, come Monday, is devoid of compassion for people of all races and creeds. That sees the transgressions and faults of others. But is blind to its own misdeeds.
Acquittal after acquittal, murder after murder, I am reminded that absent from testimony are the words of my sisters and brothers who were slain. How I wish they could speak their piece from their graves.
How I wish this flag I love waved boldly for them and me. How I hope that someday it will come to symbolize we are all finally free.