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With Liberty And Justice For All

“Oh freedom, oh freedom, oh freedom over me. And before I’d be a slave, I’d be buried in my grave and go home to my Lord and be free.”

The lyrics from this post-Civil War African American spiritual resonate with today’s cry for racial justice and equity.

With the reawakening of white America to our sin of racism, especially heightened with the horrific violent killings of George Floyd, Breana Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, I couldn’t help but ponder how we could really celebrate the true meaning of the 4th of July in light of the realities of our country’s treatment of African Americans.

The 13th Amendment is credited with ending slavery, but it made an exception for those convicted of crimes. After emancipation, black people, once seen as less than fully human “slaves,” were seen as less than fully human “criminals.” Laws governing slavery were replaced with Black Codes governing free black people—making the criminal justice system central to new strategies of racial control. These strategies intensified whenever black people asserted their independence or achieved any measure of success (New York Times Magazine, “1619 Project” by Bryan Stevenson, Aug. 14, 2019)

Statistics show that African Americans are incarcerated at more than five times the rate of whites. The imprisonment rate for African American women is twice that of white women. (The National Association of Colored People Criminal Justice Fact Sheet”)

Clearly, we are long overdue in demanding restorative justice in our judicial and law enforcement systems. One small step is to become knowledgeable about local police and law enforcement’s policies and procedures. It is essential to educate ourselves and dialogue with those in positions of authority.

I hope that people working together for true equity can create real independence and freedom for every person.

This Post Has 8 Comments
  1. Nancy,

    Thank you for this thoughtful reflection on July 4. This July 4 we have much to ponder as we recall the events of the last few months: the corona virus with all the changes experienced due to the virus and the awakening of a much broader understanding of white privilege. May this July 4 provide some time to ponder the meanings of these two events in our lives.

    Thank you again.

  2. Thanks, Nancy, for continuing this most significant conversation. The more we learn, the more we listen to history we may not have known, the more we listen to the stories of Black Lives Matter, the more we are called to respond. One way occurred to me was to examine the policy and practices of our local police as well as employment practices of businesses.
    Thanks for prompting ways to think about the 4th of july.

  3. We must go much further! Our Native Americans are relegated to reservations that do not have health care, education or even electricity! The Navajo nation received help from Ireland due to their lack of resources to fight the virus! We took their land, then took their children from them and put them in boarding schools to make them white and continue to deprive them of what most of us take for granted! Are we really a Christian nation????

  4. What a wonderful commentary for this holiday. Thank you for bringing forth the truth that is so often not even mentioned. Please God that this pandemic will be the time of
    awakening once and for all about racism in our country.

  5. Hello Nancy,

    Thank you for your reflection. I have been considering for some time now that the authors of the U.S. Declaration of Independence put the words, “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” in the proper order, but the dominant U.S. consumerist, individualist culture has reversed them. Instead of our primary focus being on what preserves and fosters life, many have chosen to pursue happiness with a liberty that ignores or oppresses others.

    Would love to hear others’ thought on this!

  6. THANKS, Nancy, for this fine piece and all you do, especially at this time, to keep us knowledgeable & encourage our community growth. Thanks also to all for excellent comments above. Nancy McCarthy

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