Last year at this time, I posted “Do We Still Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident?”
I merely copied the Declaration of Independence, including a list of the signatories and the states they represented. It was interesting to read the reasons our Founding Fathers declared American Independence.
Re-reading it just a few moments ago, I could not help but think that it was such a far less complicated time back on that summer day in 1776. But, ironically, it was a far less complicated time last year on the Fourth.
The economy was humming, to the extent that restaurants and bars were open to indoor dining and the stock market was steady. Baseball was in full swing. I had just come back to Florida from an eight-day trip to the Bronx. I began thinking of making a trip to London in the spring of 2020.
All in all, things were ok, especially if you avoided cable news.
Of course, this Fourth, we live in a different world and a battered country.
We are five months into living with the plague of COVID. All professional and amateur sports were canceled in March and have yet to return. 130,000 Americans have perished due to this deadly virus. And wearing the mask has been relegated by some misguided Americans as an infringement on their personal liberty that could have been tacked on to the list of grievances cited in the Declaration of Independence as proof enough of the righteousness of the rebellion.
In this Era of Pandemic, there has also come an awakening or reckoning regarding the matter of race relations. While thousands of people have lost their lives to a disease, a deadlier and more insidious disease continues to plague minority populations.
While the effect of COVID has disproportionately affected minority communities, this other plague has affected only minority populations. Police violence against black men may not result in the same number of deaths, it has, nevertheless, never lost its persistency. While treatments and cures have been identified, no clinical test trial has been initiated to determine their efficacy. And they lie on police commissioners desks all throughout the country.
That disease continues unabated.
The Black Lives Matter started a few years ago after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Immediately after the phrase was first uttered, white people, myself included, refrained, All Lives Mattered.
That was a true statement. All lives do matter.
What I have come to realize, because it took a while because it was never in doubt to me, was that many white people had to be reminded that Black Lives DO Matter.
The people chanting the slogan or wearing a shirt emblazoned with the movement’s slogan were not denying that all lives, including white lives, matter. They were just reminding all of us that their lives matter as well.
That truth was not self-evident to the Founding Fathers when they wrote the Declaration of Independence. It is not self-evident to Americans today.
Black men are still getting killed uselessly and criminally, and people, black and white, have had enough.
During the recent period of protests and demonstrations, I wondered what our Founding Fathers would have thought. They didn’t think too much of black lives back in 1776 or later in 1787 when the Constitution was being written. It would take a civil war and nearly 100 years before blacks would even be considered citizens.
So, Black Lives Matter was not Self-Evident to our Founding Father,s but it is Self-Evident to us on this Fourth Of July.