Thus begins the Declaration of Independence that we Americans celebrate on July 4th.
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.-Thomas Jefferson
When Jefferson penned these words he was speaking as a free white man. He owned enslaved Africans whom he didn’t consider equals. These black men and women weren’t included nor were their indigenous brothers and sisters of Native Americans ancestry who roamed the North American continent.
Jefferson saw these other Americans as members of separate races and therefore not a part of the self evident truths which he so eloquently wrote about and which we proclaim each year. I’ve come to believe that there are not separate races but one race.
‘The idea of race as a biological construct makes it easy to believe that many of the divisions we see in society are natural. But race, like gender, is socially constructed.”
DiAngelo, Robin J.. White Fragility (p. 15). Beacon Press. Kindle Edition.
I would have been affronted by such an allegation a few years ago but I have come to see and believe that I live in a culture that privileges me as a white man. Lately our country has become torn apart once again over allegations of police brutality and white supremacy. Protesters proclaiming “Black Lives Matter” have angered millions of Americans who push back with “All Lives Matter.” White folks are blinded to the truth of over four hundred years of oppression. I hope that this year is a clarion call to end the blight of racism and move forward as sisters and brothers of the human race so that we may fulfill the vision of Dr. King.
“And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” — Martin Luther King Jr.