“We declare our rights on this earth…to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY”. -Malcolm X
The Declaration of Independence – one of the most critical documents in the history of the united states was written in 1776 by members (Thomas Jefferson, John Handcock, John Q. Adams, Roger Sherman, Benjamin Franklin) of the 13 American colonies of Great Britten. The Declaration was an official act of the colonies demanding independence from the tyrannical leadership of King George III and the government of Great Britten. The 13 colonies grew angry about the oppression and inequalities they experienced under British rule. To secure their independence, the colonies went to war -the American Revolutionary War, aka War of Independence – with Great Britain between 1775-1783.
In the Declaration, the 13 Colonies outline a 27-count indictment of grievances against Great Britain and King George. Some of the claims include: King George III had become a tyrant ruling the colonies, thereby causing “repeated injuries and usurpations.” The people were being heavily taxed without their permission yet had no say/vote in decision making. (taxation without representation) The King also waged war against his very own people. And put in place standing armies in full view among the people to intimidate and keep them in check. Etc… (Please read the entire document. Not just portion of the preamble)
In no way am I defending the Declaration’s writers, many of whom owned slaves at the time the Declaration was written. Therefore, the Declaration was not intended to include black people who were enslaved. However, the content of the Declaration is noteworthy despite the morality of its authors. I feel the Declaration is a road map fortuitously set by its writers for generations of oppressed and marginalized people. The writers of the Declaration probably never had in mind that the enslaved Africans, or their descendants, and others living under tyranny would use the Declaration as a strategy to fight against their oppressors.
According to America’s Founding Documents, the Declaration of Independence demanded by the 13 Colonies defied the most powerful nation on earth. It also motivated foreign allies to join the fight. Black, brown, and other marginalized people should use the Declaration of Independence to also declare our rights.
We have been an oppressed people in America since the first slave ships landed on the shores of what is now the United States in 1619. Black people endured more than 250 years of chattel slavery. There were also 100+ years of Jim Crow oppression (a racial cast system of rigid anti-black laws of which African-Americans were treated as second-class citizens and viewed as inherently inferior to whites) until 1965. Here we are in 2020, Black and brown people are enduring de facto Jim Crow anti-black oppression, racism, and brazen discrimination woven into America’s fabric.
The evidence is unquestionable. It still remains in America, extreme Income and wealth inequalities, a vast and unchanging education achievement gap, mass incarceration, poor health outcomes, the prevalence of Black people being brutalized and killed by police, and high infant mortality rates among the Black middle-class, etc.… So, Black and brown people are not doing well under this system of government in America.
Michelle Alexander wrote in her book, The New Jim Crow, “We have not ended racial cast in America; we have merely redesigned it.”
The writers of the Declaration wanted what Malcolm X later declared for black people -their independence from an oppressive government- and they intended to get it by any means necessary. Patrick Henry, one of the founding fathers of the United States and the first revolutionary, declared in 1775, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” They were willing to put their lives on the line for the cause.
Most people I’ve talked to said they have never read the full Declaration of Independence document. Most have told me they’ve never read beyond the first part of the Preamble.: (“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.”) However, to get a better understanding of what the 13 colonies were declaring, you must read the full document.
In my opinion, the most critical statement written in the Declaration is, “That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their safety and happiness.”
The above statement gives, we who are oppressed, the charge and responsibility to take decisive action to remove any form of government that marginalize, suppress, and subjugate us. And to set up or institute a truly egalitarian government where we the people are the protagonist in their health, wealth, and well-being.
Black and brown people are at a critical time in history, and we must act now. Unfortunately, it took the cruel lynching of George Floyd to awaken people to the fact that we still live in a racial cast system in America, which has had its knee on our neck for several hundred years. We have always spilled our blood fighting for the promises America said on paper. And, we are still bleeding to attain our emancipation. If America is killing us anyway, why not defend ourselves and kill some of them with us.
Dr. John Henrik Clarke said, “the best way to get someone of your back is to stand straight up.”
The way we stand up to and fight American anti-black apartheid is:
• Vote in every election -local, state, and federal-each and every time. But, we must educate ourselves to know who we’re voting for and why. And we must hold them accountable to move our agenda after they are elected. Voting is not the only thing, it’s the first thing. Voting is also not the end but the beginning.
• March, protest and make others know our plight. Marching, protesting, and demonstrating is a very visual way to get our voice heard. It disrupts the daily lives of others who are trying to go about their business as if nothing is wrong. It makes people take notice and ask questions. It recruits unintended allies who may fight for us even if it’s only to make their lives easier.
• Educate ourselves in every way imaginable. We need to know our history and the contributions we made to make America a tremendous economic power. We must know how systems work and be more civically knowledgeable and active. Read to know about our movements for equality
• Assert our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Apparently, white people have no problem availing themselves of their right to bear arms. I see white people in possession of guns of all kinds each time I turn on the television, read twitter, open Facebook, and consume any form of news. However, I don’t see us with any. I strongly encourage each of us to get our gun permit and purchase a gun or two. Go to the range and learn how to shoot so you won’t miss when and if it comes time to use it.
• Be mentally prepared to declare and defend our rights as human beings, with force if necessary, against violent attacks from people who don’t believe our lives matter; and who hold the visceral and explicit anti-black sentiment.
• Every Black woman, man, and youth should, if possible, get a passport. Having a passport gives us the freedom to travel outside the U.S. borders and to experience how other people live, interact, and go about life differently in their part of the world. Traveling abroad will help us become more culturally aware, maybe learn another language or two, expand opportunities and view of the world. We may also want to give some consideration to relocating to a different country. Besides, in 2018, as a requirement of domestic travel, all Americans are required to have a passport if their state driver’s license doesn’t meet new federal requirements.
No one knows what the future holds for America. As civil unrest grows more and more with each act of domestic terrorism against Black and brown people by the police. And with people becoming more skeptical about America’s promise that “all men are created equal” and of being a genuinely egalitarian nation, Black and brown people must decide what we are going to do.
Are we at a place in time when the soil of the American system is forced to produce change? Is it again going to need the black and brown masses to manifest the change we want to see? The horrific murder of George Floyd, broadcasted worldwide on tv and on every social media platform, unleashed a revolutionary spirit of Black liberation activism and the urgent need to fight for social justice.
I believe there is something brewing, and it’s going to be unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before. A shift in the universe will soon take place, and nothing will ever be as pre-George Floyd. Just like it is impossible to put the toothpaste back into the tube, we will not be able to go back from here.
“I argue that nothing short of a major social movement can successfully dismantle the new cast system.” –Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow
So, we also declare our (human) right to abolish this oppressive, abusive, repressive, and autocratic form of government that exists in America today. And to replace it with a government that genuinely treats all men/women as equals. America was built on the backs of Black and brown people, and so it cannot exclude us.
Just a Piece! Of My Mind.