Many people have reached out to me asking to write on the topic of current events and issues. I was a bit taken back because that is not necessarily the tone of my traditional blog post, but it is a platform. I am a black female. I am disappointed beyond comprehension. As I was thinking through how to make this both logical thought and convey sincere emotions, I decided to start at the beginning—the start of this country.
"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." The Declaration of Independence – written and sent to King George in 1776.
Yes, sure are, we are all created equally by our God. However, we are not all treated equally by our fellow man. It is a tale as old as time, however my focus on this country. Let us call a spade a spade. We are all endowed with unalienable Rights, but many of us have never really had genuine access to said unalienable Rights. Life. Liberty. And/or The Pursuit of Happiness.
Unalienable Rights - unable to be taken away from or given away by the possessor (Yet black Americans have not had the same level of access to those rights, ever in this country.)
Then post declaration was the articles of the confederation leading into the constitution. The constitution, carefully and intentionally crafted, brought about the three-fifths clause (Article I, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution of 1787). In this section of the constitution, it was declared that for purposes of representation in Congress, enslaved blacks in a state would be counted as three-fifths of the number of white inhabitants of that state. Let me reiterate, 3/5 of a human being for all black people (slaves - but people in mind, my ancestors) in the United States.
Right now, given the current state of the country, many people are wondering why so many of us are frustrated, why so many black Americans are angry, and why so many blacks are hurting. Because we as a country know better than this, yet never did better than this. Let us re-read that statement - "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are 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." What?! Were we created by a different Creator that made blacks 3/5 of a person?
The declaration was never written for the black Americans that were in the country in 1776, and even now, but we hold this document in such high esteem due to its cultural significance. We take the words and apply them to today. Yet many of us have never seen progress in our ability to attain Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. Unfortunately, this is nothing new for this country. During the next few weeks, I will walk you through the build from slavery for black Americans into Jim Crow, the Civil Rights Movement, up to the events of the past couple of years.
Life: (Definition - the existence of an individual human being)
An existence of being stolen and/or sold from our homes, dying of disease in unlivable conditions on slave ships with no regard, sold as property, forced to reproduce like livestock, and beaten or killed if there was an attempt to run away.
Liberty: (Definition - the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one's way of life, behavior, or political views.)
Generation, after generation, of slaves. "Living" without any form of due process, choosing the course and direction of our lives, and opportunity for a better life. Beaten and killed into submission is not liberty nor life.
The Pursuit of Happiness: (Definition - feeling or showing pleasure or contentment)
How can one attempt to drive towards any level of happiness when children are taken from their mothers' arms, many never to be seen again. Living an existence to make America great on the backs of hours of labor in conditions (mental, emotional, physical), many of us would find unbearable to pursue happiness.
Please tell me how this doesn't break your heart and kill your spirit – yet we survive.
So I can't help but beg the question, if our Declaration of Independence holds 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 - why were and are black Americans so different? I find any answer almost laughable except the truth - we are created equally but not treated equally. Because the declaration is nothing short of just words on paper.