As we approach Columbus Day here in the United States, how about a little ‘food for thought’! Since among the national conversations, we are talking about and debating the presence and the significance of monuments in public spaces, we must also be a more aware and fully educated society. In order that informed decisions are made, it is important to first be informed-fully informed.
American history has always been presented and taught in a skewed and watered-down manner, in order to appease the whites who decided to settle here, as immigrant populations, I must add, the time has come that we wake up, and awaken ourselves to the truths of our nation from its founding. The strategic means of settlement and conquering, not bartering or bargaining, of and for this land, involved quite inhumane and downright barbaric means of gaining ownership for a people who originally set out for another land completely.
Though I love this country as it now stands, we must still be an honest people, and share that honesty with all, including the telling of our history. This includes the telling of the collective history, especially and particularly the contributions of Africans and African-Americans who had an overwhelming impact and a great number of hands in the infrastructure of this country.
We should have grown, matured and humanized our consciousness to the level that enables us to be completely unbiased and honest enough to accept , tell and teach this history. WE, collectively contributed to the ‘greatness’ of this country, and now that we are great, or wish for others to believe so, then we must move to the next level of greatness. That responsibility lies with every one of us, the powers that be, and the person on the street, that we begin to demand that we sweep all our ‘skeletons’ out from under the rugs, so to speak, and exalt this country to the heights and significance as leaders of the free world. We must demonstrate and model what freedom really means. Otherwise, we remain national hypocrites, and one day, inevitably, the truth will be swept out for us, and for all to see. Why can’t it BE us who understands and tells the truths, good and bad?
The answer is in education systems across this nation. It starts in schools and begins with textbooks. “Tell the truth, and ‘shame the devil!” Otherwise the power of shaming belongs to others. Our credibility to the world is progressively weakened and we become, or continue to be perceived as…..bullies standing in the name of equality, fairness, human rights as we wave the American flag.
We have to take it and own it and demonstrate that we have learned from it, while vowing to never repeat any undemocratic practices associated with imperialism and capitalism. We can do it, America, and we will all be much better for it-more peaceful, cooperative, respectful, less divisive! Penance and reconciling ourselves with our past, as a relatively young nation, is the best pathway to lead the next generation of leaders and global citizens into a bright, and shining example of a heterogeneous, diversely populated democracy….of, by and FOR the people. Let the messages that we send to the world align with the messages that we send to one another. It is now our legacy that we will leave for our children-are we a better nation? In truth is great wisdom and greater power. Empower the people.
Happy Columbus Day!