It’s The Same & Not in Any Order

by De’Kendria Stamps

Special to The Dreher Report

To those who speak in disbelief saying, “This is Not America!” I offer a friendly amendment to your statement, “This Is Not America to YOU!” It has always been America to us.

This is the same America that practically wiped out the Native Americans. The same America that touted manifest destiny and enacted brutalization and terror on the Trails of Tears and the during the Middle Passage of the mid-Atlantic slave trade.

The America that enacted full on lynchings while parents held picnic baskets on one arm and the hands of their children as they sat down on blankets to watch.

The same America that forced Native children into boarding schools and Japanese families into internment camps. The same America that tricked Black men into being inoculated with syphilis known as The Tuskegee Experiment. The same America that burned down Black Wall Street, Black churches, and Black towns. The same America that allowed the burning of crosses by the Ku Klux Klan in Black yards.

This is the America that hunted down Emmett Till and allowed the murderers to walk free even after they admitted to the crime during an 1950 interview in Look magazine.

The same America denied people the right to vote, stole family land through circumvented property laws, and continues to stifle Black economic empowerment through gentrification and predatory lending practices.

The same America that hoodwinked the nation with Reconstruction only to enact grandfather laws, Jim Crow, and reading tests to compromise our ability to vote. The same America that did not allow women to vote until 1920. The same America that forced members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. to march at the end of the Women’s Suffrage March of 1913 as to not sully the movement for white women.

The same America that necessitated the fugitive slave narratives of Henry “Box” Brown, Ellen & William Craft, Harriet Jacobs, Frederick Douglass, Olaudah Equiano, and Joseph Cinqué. The same America that celebrated the movie “Birth of Nation”; that same America whose president screened the movie in the White House.

The same America seeking to diminish any other form of beauty that steps outside of its white, blond, blue-eyed ideal.

The same America that wrote of freedom, justice, and the pursuit of happiness while simultaneously choking the life out of millions of nonwhite lives.

The same America flooded our neighborhoods with drugs, refused to enact a standard living wage, and preached bootstrap theology. The same America that decided that your sons and daughters were victims of a drug epidemic and now drug addiction should be considered a public health emergency.

The same America denied Black people the right to vote, stole family land through circumvented property laws, and continues to stifle Black economic empowerment through gentrification and predatory lending practices.

The same America that makes me cry when I look into the eyes of one of my brothers, and he tells me, ‘De’Kendrea, at least they let you in. They automatically see me as a threat’ during a conversation we had about employment.

The same America created an intricate private school system after desegregation and a corrupt public school system funded by an imbalanced property tax system.

The same America that created white flight, suburbia, and exclusive neighborhoods. The same American that created HOAs, citizens councils, public charge, COINTELPRO, and the OG labor unions.

The same America that makes me cry when I look into the eyes of one of my brothers, and he tells me, “De’Kendrea, at least they let you in. They automatically see me as a threat” during a conversation we had about employment. This America does not see his multiple college degrees, strong work ethic, or commitment to his family.

Terrorists, seditionist, and traitors have existed–always.

This is the America that killed Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Daniel Prude, George Floyd, Atatiana Jefferson, Aura Rosser, Stephon Clark, Botham Jean, Philando Castille, Alton Sterling, Michelle Cusseaux, Freddie Gray, Janisha Fonville, Eric Garner, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, and countless others.

So, when you exalt, “This Is Not America.” I offer a friendly amendment, “This Is Not America to YOU.” It has been America to us–always.

Terrorists, seditionist, and traitors have existed–always. They shot James Meredith as he fought for an education in the south, placed our sons/brothers on the frontlines of wars and ripped GI Bill benefits from them upon return, and beat Fannie Lou Hamer as she battled for her right to vote.

So, now that you see it, will you decide to unsee it? Will you hide in your shroud of privilege and supremacy? Will you busy yourselves with book clubs, planning councils, and longitudinal studies? Or will you take a long, hard look inside yourself and your families to root out these seeds of injustice, bigotry, and hate? You will see, it’s the same

De’Kendrea grew up in the bustling metropolis of Crystal Springs, MS (population 4,853), in a family that truly believes in public service and social justice.

She is the FoodShare Outreach Program Director for Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadREP). While working at MadREP she was inspired by quality of life metrics. From there, De’Kendrea quickly developed a passion for issues focusing on the social determinants of health, which include access to transportation, education, and healthy food. Nearly 15 years later, De’Kendrea provides support to our SNAP Outreach team and is happy to spend her days ensuring that all Wisconsinites have access to food and benefits they need to work, learn, play, and live healthy lives.

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