My Conflict With America and Myself: A History We Can’t Ignore

a flag 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.

Swords, Shields and Honor

“They came in the night! On boats bigger than our villages! There were dozens of them and before we knew what was happening the fields were on fire! And then our huts! We heard the horses scream and fall down! We grabbed our swords and shields but they weren’t there to fight.”

The tears started to fall as I was telling our elders the story. The look on my son’s face, the fear in my wife’s eyes as they threw them in the wagons and rode off. Our horses dead and they were shooting a tiny metal ball out of a weapon I’d never seen before!

“Why did they come if they don’t want war!?” The youngest of the elders stood up and smashed the but of his spear on the ground! His anger mirroring mines but he was the only other.

I composed myself but didn’t wipe away the pain! I wanted them to know my hate and need for vengeance was real!

“They came to take us! To take our women and children! They burned our villages and crops! Killed the horses! Used weapons I never saw before! They took my family… We ran as hard as we could but when we got to their camp on the river there were to many and us to few with no armor! Give me warriors and let me get my family back!”

My heart was beating! Bloodlust was in my fingertips and eyes but they just sat silently.

Why are they just sitting silently?!

“Why will we not fight?!”

“Tell him. Someone tell him, I cannot.”

Another elder sat up in his seat, his sword shining in his lap.

“We did not know they would attack your village… They came almost a year ago and fell upon the southern villages with weapons we can’t beat. They killed all the men and took the women and children as slaves. We… We made a decision to let them have the poorer tribes in exchange for leaving our villages alone and making our enemies their enemies.”

I could not believe the looks of defeat in their eyes. The fear… I spit on the floor and unsheathed my sword! Their guards and soldiers pulled theirs but no one stepped toward me.

“Where is your honor!? Your pride!? You fear their weapons so you give away your own people! I would rather DIE with my sword in my right hand and my shield in left than live like a COWARD!”

One of the elders sons ran from his fathers side with his spear aimed at my heart, before he could bring it down his head was hanging from his neck. Two more soldiers soon followed him to the afterlife! Their blood staining my armor, they died good deaths.

“Is there any other man that wants to die today?!!!” Every soldier in my village stood behind me, weapon in hand, waiting to share in my vengeance!

Their sons, daughters, wives, horses, lives were all gone. Probably sailing on big boats to lands we would never find! Death, an honorable death in battle against a million men was better than living with this pain!

“You make your deals and lie on your backs like whores but we go to WAR!!!”
I turned my back on the leaders I’d sworn to defend and went to seek my vengeance or die trying!