The United States of America was founded on the idea that all people are equal and deserve to be free from oppression and fear. The Founders’ vision for the future of America was an intellectual, educated civilization based on the highest ideals of freedom, justice, equality, and law.
We have fallen short of this promise.
Since I was a kid, I have heard people proclaim to be “patriotic” and bark at people they disagree with to “love it or leave it”.
Lots of us who are born and raised in the United States endure the menacing growls of “You ain’t from here” and “Go back where you came from”.
These alleged patriots who love their country turn on their own people in the blink of an eye. Yes, American people are all connected. We are our people. Years ago, the great American author James Baldwin discussed the impossible question of how to remain in a country that you love, but that doesn’t love you back. This nation was meant to be a patchwork quilt of all ethnicities, harmoniously living together as one.
How does one “go back where they came from” when they are from the place that is threatening them? How does one love a country where one is born and raised, but where they are not welcome? Women have been criminalized by Republicans. Black skin has been criminalized for centuries, by the alleged “ruling class”. Most of us have ancestors who died to end the dehumanization of human beings and eradicate fascism. There are people of every ethnicity who have fought and died to ensure the continued pursuit of a more perfect union within our own country, and peaceful prosperity around the globe. This country does not belong to one ethnic group or self-proclaimed “patriots”. It belongs to all Americans born and raised here, or who have become naturalized citizens after coming here to invest themselves, their talents, and the futures of their children in this country: these United States.
Equality has always been what we were meant to strive for. In his Gettysburg Address, President Lincoln quoted The Constitution, that “all men are created equal”. His speech at Gettysburg was a plea to the country to forge onward with our highest ideals in mind so that the thousand who died would not have died in vain.
Out of many, one. E pluribus unum. Like it says on the money in everyone’s pockets.
It’s the promise of the American Dream.
The lie of white supremacy has been a stain on our country long enough. Our country is being ripped apart from within by so-called white “patriots” who are attacking their own people in favor of aligning with a hostile foreign government, turning their backs on their own country’s principles in favor of violence and white supremacy.
The whole point of the United States of America is that all are welcome, all are equal, and there are no foreigners here. We are directed by our Constitution to protect freedoms for all Americans, not just white, male, wealthy ones. Our unique promise of freedom has attracted people from around the world seeking protection from oppression, tyranny and fear.
How can we make these offers of freedom to people not born here when we can’t even protect the freedoms of American women, children, and Americans of Color?
Every time one American says to another that they should “love it or leave it” they reinforce the impossible choice to be in a place that is made unsafe by the speaker. Every time one American tells another American “go back where you came from,” they tear another hole in our democracy, and the principles that our nation was built on.
We, Americans, must end this division and bigotry. We are all part of this one experiment. This nation belongs to all of us. We all belong here, and we owe it to our ancestors to make sure ALL Americans are welcome in their own home. The Preamble of The Constitution states: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
In the past, this country drove some its best and brightest citizens away by making this a nation that did not welcome all people. Champions like Muhammad Ali, artists like Maya Angelou and Josephine Baker, writers like James Baldwin felt like they had no choice but to leave the borders of their own country, their homeland, in order to feel a sense of peace, safety, community, and acceptance. Would you allow the flames of racism to drive away our champions now? The NBA has stood up, but will you? Will American people diminish our greatest and most talented citizens like Michael Jordan whose very name means to be the absolute, equivocal best in whatever field? Do we stand with him and Oprah? Will we forcefully stand with the families of murdered Black children? Or deny their humanity and the basic human right to be safe in their own home? Do we allow the erosion of the promise of the American Dream, or do we agree to stand with each other, in our homeland — out of many, one?
Now is the time to rise to the occasion and keep the promises of our ancestors whose desire to create a world free from fear and tyranny pushed them to create a new nation.
We must choose each other. We must work together to keep our democracy, protect freedom for all people, and make reparations to those who our government has failed.
There cannot be a single American who calls themselves loyal to this country who tries to intimidate or diminish the humanity of other Americans.
None of us can afford to tolerate the dehumanization or diminishing of any of any of our fellow citizens. We must, at this particular moment, find our fortitude and stand up for what is right, and what is necessary. We must facilitate the Great Experiment, our United States, to continue onward into a future where everyone born and raised here knows without any doubt that they belong here. That they are safe here. That they are welcome, wanted, and necessary for our country to renew its vow to always be for freedom, and justice for all.