I was driving on US 59 and Fannin yesterday when I saw a billboard about celebrating the revolutionaries. You know the names, George Washington, Ben Franklin, these great men that liberated America from the British and started maybe the greatest country the world has ever seen. In that moment of thinking about how I couldn’t wait to go to the Museum of Fine Arts because I love history I felt a great sense of sadness. Sadness because I was excited to go read about and view the history of men that enslaved my ancestors.
Imagine that for a second. Africans and Europeans and countries and civilizations all over the world took part in slavery for centuries but only in America, this land of the free and the brave did that take it to such a level that even other countries said, “What the hell?!”
George Washington, the first President of our great nation owned slaves. Thomas Jefferson had more little mixed kids than any pro athlete or rapper we could think of. We romanticize these men and celebrate them in history books and museums when they looked at us as property. They would have rather saw us enslaved than free us to help them fight the British and they’re my heroes?
It’s no secret that if Abraham Lincoln could have kept the country from going to war he would have let the South keep slavery. Even to men in the north that thought slavery was uncouth they mostly felt that way because of money. Southerners were getting rich off free labor and the north couldn’t compete.
I don’t want to make this about just African Americans and all we endured. Let’s talk about our beloved America. I won’t ignore the 400 years of slavery and the Reconstruction period and the Civil Rights Period and the Regan Crack Laws that decimated my father’s generation. I’ll table that for now. America had Chinese people build the railroads, after they built the railroads they were put in concentration camps. Millions died trying to connect the east coast to the west coast. America literally wiped out Native Americans, Google the “Trail of Tears,” there was no room for savages they said. America took Manifest Destiny and wiped out all of what is now Southern and Western America. We look at the Alamo as Americans standing up to the big bad Mexicans when in fact it was us taking their land and their homes. I could go on and on but understand my conflict, I still love this country that has done so much wrong to so many people. I still feel like I couldn’t have the life I have if I didn’t live here. That bothers me and I wish I could explain the nights I sit up and try to imagine what my ancestors had to go through.
Racism still exist, classism is only getting bigger. The food we eat is damn near poison, the prices we pay are 400 times what they cost to make it. Nothing has changed with this country I love but the packaging. That’s what hurts me most of all.