Yanks are getting ready to celebrate Independence Day. I am one of them. But back in the day, studying world history from a British textbook, a single short paragraph was devoted to a “rebellion” somewhere across the Atlantic that led to the birth of a new country. As we sang “God Save the Queen” every morning, along with vigorous strains of “Rule Britannia,” I had a delightful opportunity to view history from the proud perspective of a nation upon whom the sun never set.
No country is immune from its own slant on history. One reason that Yanks are still struggling with a racial divide in this country is our inability to accurately recall and retell history. Sure, textbooks are “catching up” but our dominant social history makes light of the scourge of slavery. I believe that such wickedness stains our nation. Black Americans remain tainted as “less than” by large segments of society. We still hear echoes of “Go back where you came from!” as though their arrival in this country was a deliberate a choice on their part, as though they hadn’t been stacked like waste products in the hulls of ships, as though they hadn’t been brutalized and raped and defined as less than human. The recent slaughter in Charleston, the murder of young black men, the debates over the Confederate flag, and day-to-day racial stereotyping argue that the blight of slavery has not been eradicated. As someone who fought in the civil rights movement, I smashed against the same ugliness facing us today. In which generation will the transformation truly occur? It’s been too long in coming. Let’s create a better history in our hearts and consciences, for that is surely where change must start.