Christopher Columbus, an Italian explorer and navigator, sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in 1492 from Spain in Santa Maria, hoping to find a new route to India. He’s credited for discovering the United States of America. For the next 400 years and onward, America would plague itself with racism, segregation, slavery, hate crimes and endless corruption throughout its government, citizens and society.
But this is America, where we are forced to “pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America” as elementary students. When we recite being “one nation under God,” I wonder if God would be okay with what this country vowed in His name to become.
We’re one nation under God, but on Apr. 4, 1968 our one nation assassinated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the balcony of his second-floor hotel room at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tenn. Society tried to pass it off as a fatal shooting, and he died at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
However, after the shooting, King was still alive. It was revealed that King survived the shooting, but was smothered by police officers on his way to the hospital. For years we were trained by “the land of the free” that one of the greatest Civil Rights Movement leaders was killed by the hate he received for bringing people together, but instead he was killed by our own government. Being Black in America is one thing, but being Black and educated is another.
Once again, this is the land of the free. One nation under God. One of the Ten Commandments in the Bible states that thou shalt not kill.
Malcolm Little, better known to the world as Malcolm X, was the fourth of seven children to be born in Omaha, Neb. to Louise Helen Little and Earl Little. Part of his life was far from perfect, but he used his voice to demand civilization in America “by any means necessary.” Unfortunately, on Feb. 21, 1965 at the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan, N.Y., Malcolm was killed was also assassinated by alleged members of the Nation of Islam.
Still, we continue to call ourselves one nation under God as if God said it was okay to tear down what we should be building up. We also chant about being the “land of the free” in our well-known national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” However, it was the land of the free that held Black men and women captive as slaves and lynched, beat, raped and tore apart our ancestors for more than 200 years. Once slavery became prohibited by the 13th Amendment, America traded one slave era for another with mass incarceration.
In 1971, former U.S. President Richard Nixon declared in 1971 there would be a “war on drugs.” For the next years to come we see prison populations sky rocket by millions. According to the World Population Review, America makes up almost 5 percent of the world’s population, but yet holds around 22 percent of the world’s prisoners. We’re the land of the free, but we don’t mind keeping millions of people from their own freedom.
But this is America. This is where current U.S. President Donald Trump can sit in the Oval Office of the White House and insist on shutting down the government until they back him on keeping immigrants across the border. This is where police can fire their guns at young Black men and women because they feel “threatened.” Body cameras and video recordings can expose these incidents for what they really are -- an officer openly murdering an innocent citizen because they can, and officers still get acquitted of all charges against them.
This is America, our America, but yet we go against everything we stand for.
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily of The Torch.