It’s midnight in America! What will folks see when the dust clears or at sunrise? That’s a question many are asking after events of the past few days and weeks. All this has been happening while dealing with the global Coronavirus pandemic. It’s also happening as the nation prepares to celebrate another Independence Day.
People at home and abroad are trying to understand the trauma experienced by black men in America. Meantime, others are turning the peaceful protests into property damage and extreme agendas. Some aspects of these events might take us back to the Boston Tea Party protest, which led to the American Revolution. Back then many were unhappy with being treated as second-class citizens by the British Empire. This dissatisfaction included a list of grievances that led to the Declaration of Independence.
To bring a See America In Color view to the broader story, those fighting for the colonies saw this as a moment to establish a ‘new & improved’ country, aka the United States of America. However, many African-Americans have had mixed feelings about Independence Day because it celebrated fireworks before achieving their freedoms. Remember, Emancipation didn’t come until long after Independence. Fast-forward to what’s happening today, and it might shed light on whether we choose to ‘See America In Color’ or ‘See America In Conflict.’
To ‘See America In Color’ is to merge American history, the ‘Black to America’ story and Hometown Strong comebacks into a better picture of civic/social issues for a higher level of citizenship. In one sense, the upside of the Revolution was in creating a vision for America through the founding documents. But to ‘See America In Conflict’ is to not address legitimate issues and basically keep the ‘grievance train’ running from coast to coast. This might be what those with extreme ideologies want to see happen as a different kind of fireworks.
Why were the founding documents an important part of America’s beginnings? Well it spoke to aspirational ideals and timeless principles. But the recurring theme is whether those ideals keep falling short for African-Americans. They fell short right out the gate because Blacks were treated as second-class and of three-fifths human value. So, what can we learn from America’s upside and downside in going forward after the recent events of protest and unrest?
Well it’s been said “where there’s no vision the people perish.” It might also be said that “where there’s no vision, something else will move in and take its place.” Unfortunately, in the current political climate, less time is spent on providing us a vision. This has left a vacuum for disinformation to move in. It’s almost as if we’re not only dealing with Covid-19. We’re also dealing with a virus called ‘Disinfo-20’ that’s infecting citizens and institutions. We need a vision for America, communities, families and citizens to null the effects of the ‘Disinfo-20’ virus. If the founding documents are a guide, that vision needs to reflect the:
- Rights of people
The Declaration of Independence reminds us, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (women) are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” George Floyd had a right to be treated as a human being, not as a ‘catch of prey.’ Hunting prey is often seen as sport. But if we say we’ve abolished slavery and slave catchers, then this can’t be the way we view human life in the 21st century.
- Role of government
The U.S. Constitution begins with the words “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity….” The role of government isn’t to divide us as a nation but to ensure the fulfillment of personhood, protection, promise and prosperity. The U.S. motto E Pluribus Unum (out of many, one) should be a kind of self-check done by public officials running for and serving in office towards advancing the greater good.
- Responsibility of citizens
In TV ads we’re reminded to complete the census, register to vote and actually go out and vote. These steps are important because rights without responsibility make a mockery of democracy. That’s what some people miss when emphasizing the ‘Bill of Rights’ Amendments. There should also be a sense of responsibility. Even Thomas Jefferson once said “I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”
- Results for humanity
Just think about how far we’ve come since the ‘60s in advancing color TV. We went from No-K to 4K picture quality. But with civic/social issues are we still stuck in the 60s and the idea of ‘no justice, no peace?’ That’s why if we choose to ‘See America In Color’ as opposed to ‘See America In Conflict’ it will help to advance results for humanity. This means turning grievances into goals for a higher level of citizenship.
Even with Coronavirus still a concern, we had protests in the east, protests in the west, protests up north and protests down south. The main outcry has been about justice for George Floyd and freedom from despair. It’s like the perfect storm of Covid-19 anxiety, ‘Disinfo-20’ distrust, unresolved tensions around social injustices and boiled-over rage/destruction. So, to move forward beyond these issues we can build-on SAIC’s Project “Strong 2 Strong” with a vision for better days as families, communities and citizens.
You can join the conversation and support our efforts to “See America In Color: With 2020 Vision” at the Facebook ‘Hometown Chat’ Page here www.facebook.com/seeamericaincolor.
Tracks: Beyoncé – Freedom – https://youtu.be/yh91lO-PU0o
One Republic – Better Days – https://youtu.be/fnHlRQZZbbY