Thursday, July 15, 2010

How Do I Feel About The USA? How Does The USA Feel About Me?

July 4 marked the 234th anniversary of our Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. But as an African-American, our feelings about this country can be conflicted at times and can be summed up in a paraphrased line from the 'Tuskegee Airmen' movie:

How do I feel about the USA? How does the USA feel about me?

Frederick Douglass touched upon that conflict in his famous July 5, 1852 'The Meaning of July Fourth For The Negro' speech that still resonates with many African descended Americans today.

While I'm immensely proud that an African American president and his family resides in the house that my ancestors built with their uncompensated labor, I'm not happy about the unrelenting racist attacks he has endured since taking the oath of office in January 2009.

I'm displeased that some of the rhetoric is flowing from the lips of white GLBT people who clearly wanted Hillary Clinton to win the presidency. They demand that this president do in half of his first term what the other 43 white males in both parties that occupied the Oval Office couldn't or wouldn't do for GLBT rights.

I'm disgusted with the conservative 'take our country back' and 'real American' rhetoric I'm hearing in the runup to the November midterm elections. I deplore the rush by Republican dominated state legislatures to mimic Arizona's 'Hate On Latinos' legislation being pushed under the guise of 'immigration reform'.

I'm frustrated that as a trans African descended American citizen I'm fighting it seems at times a three front war with conservatives, elements of the Black community and the gay community just to have my humanity recognized and my constitutional rights respected and protected.

But just as I'm ready to say forget it, I'll read a speech from Dr. King, an essay from W.E.B DuBois, quotes from Barbara Jordan or some other brilliant thinker that reminds me of the price our people paid in blood for the American label.

It's our country, our flag, our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution too, even if the Founding Fathers only counted my ancestors as 3/5ths of a human being in 1787. My full citizenship rights required rivers of blood, a civil war, three constitutional amendments, multiple civil rights acts, decades of protests and numerous landmark Supreme Court decisions.

After perusing my history, I'm motivated once again to pick up the baton and become a drum majorette for justice. My faltering determination is renewed and I steel myself once again to fight for Dr. King's dream and a country that values the human rights of all its citizens.

There's a lot of things transpiring in this country right now that make me wonder which direction we are headed.

Is it toward fairness and justice for all or are we being pushed backwards to the early 20th century edition of America?

But there's enough signs that there are a lot of things right with with this country that allow me to be hopeful about its future and feel it will make it to its tricentennial birthday intact in 2076.

But I still have enough concerns about America's color line problem that compel me to ponder once again the question I asked at the beginning of the post.

How do I feel about the USA? How does the USA feel about me?

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