Did you know that the phrase Land Of The Free is not just a line in the Star-Spangled Banner? It is the title of the national anthem of Belize, and the text was written by Samuel Haynes who, in the 1920s began organizing the Universal Negro Improvement Association there. As many already know, Belize was a British colony until the 1980s, and suffered under their powers for centuries with slavery and oppression being the order of the day. Even today, many years after independence from the British, there are separations within Belizean society, with areas of Belize City still referred to as the former slave quarters and other areas only populated by white people and the richer blacks.
This, of course, is a foreign country, it is not the United States of America where everyone is free and has an equal chance. At least, that is what some people in the United States would have us believe. Yet, with the continuing race problems in Ferguson and elsewhere, we see the reality on our screens every single day of the year. That reality is reflected here:
where it is easy to see that some appear to believe that those living in Ferguson, those thousands of people are not American and of less value than one white American.
I certainly do not wish to detract from the death of an American at the hands of a terrorist organization, such an action should be, and is, abhorrent to us all whether that person is white or any other color, of any other ethnic origin. It is, however, a fact that in the United States of America there is no equality no matter what some people may wish to claim, and it all begins with how we refer to people, to our fellow citizens. An American, for many, is white. If we refer to anyone who is not white they are Asian-American, Afro-American, Native-American. They are a sub-culture within the whole, not quite up to the mark since they are called by a different name, pigeon-holed away from the real Americans. This is the racial profiling which we all follow when referring to other people in order to define who they are, where they belong. This is racism at its finest, because it is accepted by all and rarely if ever queried.
Photo Source: unknown, via Pinterest
Is a third generation Afro-American any less an American than a third generation White-American? Do they not have exactly the same Rights and Freedoms as everyone else born within the borders of our country? If they do, and our society is built on this premise, why do we feel it necessary to refer to them as something other than a full-blown American? Why do we feel that it is right to call those who were here centuries before the original invaders or settlers of the northern part of this great continent Native-American when, in reality, they are more American than anyone who came later?
Perhaps we should begin with the basics when it comes to racism, and drop these sub-culture definitions, drop the additional names added to American and treat all as being equal in all ways, regardless of where their great grandparents were born. We are all citizens of the United States of America, many by choice, most by birth and in this respect we are all equal.
For many this change would probably be earth-shattering: removing that small piece of ‘special’ which they have grown used to; placing everyone on the same level when it comes to citizenship. For others, and I suspect this could be the vast majority of Americans who care to think about their country, it would only be right and proper. You cannot have a fully integrated, functioning country so long as some are set apart, so long as some are defined differently merely because of their color or the ethnic origin of their ancestors.
- Viktoria Michaelis.