A Lady with a Lamp
The Statue of Liberty is 130 years young. Through the best and worst of times she has stood with confidant and grace. At her feet there is a plaque, which simply says: Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
She makes no mention of a wall to keep out those who wish to enter out. She gives no physical description of what those who yearn to be free shall look like. Which means one can have skin so light it is translucent or so dark the skin possess a blue hue. They as well as all of us in between are welcomed. She makes no mention of language because whether you speak no English, two words of English, or fluent English she holds her lamp so we all can make it safely through the door. She demands no religion be practiced. So the Atheists, the Jew, the Christian, and the Muslim can all walk onto the shore. She does not profess herself to be the standard, nor does she demand those seeking refuse forget the richness of their culture. She makes no reference to sexual orientation, and which gender or race will have more value. She does not demand only the best and greatest be sent, but instead quietly ask that those who need refuse follow her light to their new home. There is no reference to ownership of these United States because she is not so bold or arrogant to yell My Country at those who not only walk the shores but the streets, and avenues searching for their version of free.
Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it George Santayana wrote these words in Reason of Common Sense. We as a nation have barley planted both of our feet firmly in the 21st century and it seems we are doomed to repeat. Repeat because we as a nation are still reluctant to let go of the misguided, antiquated falsehood that have divide us so a few could prosper. We are repeating the missteps of the past because we refuse to fully accept that beauty, intelligence, success, and the goodness of humanity comes in all shades, sizes, and cultures. And that a standard of any of these things, which only represents a small few, is a standard we need not follow. Our standard should be one that engulfs the spectrum of who we are even if it hasn’t been fairly represented in out history books, and media. We are doomed to repeat because even though we claim to be a first world nation we treat our women in a less than first world way by demanding a woman relinquish control of her body to the regulation of laws, which work against her best interest. We are a nation where people feel they have the right to block a woman’s access to birth control and abortion and then judge her for having children at a young age, too many children, or no children at all. We are a nation where people scream “save the babies” outside of planned parenthood clinics, but then leave thousands upon thousands of children to age out of the foster care system or languish in poverty.
We are a nation that screams we’re colorblind when we witness racial discrimination, and brutality. But see bold, vibrate shades of black and brown when we follow people through stores, when we follow them home, when we clutch our handbags as they walk by us, and stand our ground. We see color when we question who do “they” think they are, demand those shades of black and brown we claim to not see be submissive, and assimilate. We scream we’re colorblind but then laugh and ridicule those who don’t have names that sound mainstream. We see color so strongly in those moments that we think nothing of moving their applications for colleges and jobs to be bottom of the pile, because we still only see intelligent in one color. We scream we’re color blind. But take note every time we see a white man holding a black woman’s hand. We roll our eyes when we see a black man put his arm around a white woman. We cringe when we see an Asian man or woman or a Hispanic man or woman and he or she is not acting Asian or Hispanic enough. The way mainstream is comfortable seeing them. We’re shocked when a black woman isn’t an “angry black woman, and we think nothing of asking a biracial or multi racial person “what are you?” And don’t even get me started on the hair because we have to touch the hair. Yes, we see color. We see gay, straight and transgender. Our forgetfulness about our history convinces some of us that it’s still okay to hate, persecute, and harass those who don’t conform to what should have never been the norm as it pertains to love and marriage. Our amnesia won’t allow us to remember that no good comes from making a person’s sexuality public debate.
Recently I was told by a narrow-minded individual. “Get out of my country.” Yes in the 21st century people still utter this misguided phrase. I am an American citizen a black American citizen who was born on US soil. This is where I belong. These United States do not belong exclusively to the misguided fool who told me to leave, or to I. He and I along with the rest of us are people found within her boarders are connected forever by our birth, or immigration onto the land. She is not a possession of one and to reduce her to the possession of a “my” insults the “ours” that make her who she is. And to that injudicious individual I say I am not leaving, my children are not leaving, the people who look nothing like you and everything like you are not leaving. You do not have the authority to decide who walks this land. And if you have a problem with us being here take it up with the lady at Elis Island because she wasn’t just talking about you when she said she would hold the lamp so we could find the golden door.