We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The preamble of the United States are some of the most beautiful words ever penned together. However, like an insincere compliment or an apology that is not followed by actions- there is a hollowness or incompletion to great joy the actions and words should breathe.
Those who commit domestic violence violate this preamble because they reduce the ability for domestic tranquility within our country. Whether it is a man beating his wife in an elevator, a lady beating her sister in her home. It should be noted that abuse is not only physical, but can also be emotional and financial. Sadly, domestic violence has the unfortunate ability to replicate itself and become an intergenerational problem that continues to repeat itself over decades and centuries.
The strangest part about domestic violence is that the victim inside of the relationship will often make excuses and show an unconditional love toward the abuser. Many people will ridicule the the person and try to help them to leave because injury, pain and death are imminent. Yet, for some reason, they will stay in the abusive situation and speak on positive attributes of the abuser to rationalize the reason why they have remained; and, some of the reasons are valid. In the end, the mental manipulation and roller coaster of love by the abuser have created a cycle of dependency and fear that disables the abused to act in a manner consistent with an emotionally healthy individual.
I say that to say this, as Frederick Douglass articulated so many years ago on the 4th of July. How is it that one of African descent can truly celebrate the birth of America? I will be the first to admit that times are qualitatively different from those of African descent today from the time of the antebellum Negro. When America declared her independence from Great Britain, it was because they were tired of being controlled and disrespected. It was a day of celebration for those Americans who could truly enjoy the new liberties and freedom this declaration provided. Sadly, not all those who lived in this sovereign could taste the beautiful smell of freedom they saw others eat from that day. Who wants to be at a Barbecue and only smell the food from the grill but not be able to enjoy it? Even more, what if you are forced to prepare and cook the meal watch others devour it and be forced to clean up their mess. That does not seem like a celebration to me, does it to you?
When I see the African-American celebrate the 4th of July, I see the typical patterns of those who suffer from domestic violence. There is a weird love-hate relationships that allows you to want to see and remember the good times and put away those harmful past moments. As African-Americans, we are proud to know our ancestors help to build this country. We are proud of our ancestors who survived the ills of slavery; We are proud of our ancestors who survived the ugly era of Jim Crow; and I am encouraged by my fellow brothers and sisters who still exist in an age of covert systematic racism. However, I am also saddened when I think about the numbers of ancestors that were tortured and killed coming to the Americas. I am also saddened by the inhumane insults suffered by those in the era where Jim Crow was the legal law of the land. I am deeply disheartened how I see the generations of today continue to show the ill effects of the generational abuse. Our community have produced many success stories who have defined what resilience means; but, we also see the internal and external destruction continually witnessed on a day to day basis.
I, too, am America and want to fully be part of this society. Then there is another part of me that wants to go home where I belong. The sad part is, I do not really know where that is, family. Distractors will say, “Go back to Africa, if you don’t like it here.” And, that is the problem in a nutshell. Africa is a very large continent with many different countries. Most historians, agree most of the Atlantic Slave Trade took people from West Africa. That is still to vague for me…. and if I were to return who would be there to greet me now? I would love to go back home where I could be greeted, loved and welcomed. I have been kidnapped and taken away from home for so long now, that I am really a man without a true home. This is why, African-Americans feel compelled to celebrate this day with feelings of reservations. Can Cinderella really celebrate with the same fervency of elation when it is here sister’s birthday? Who wants to celebrate on the peripheral? Then again, who wants to be close to a party and not engage in the festivities, especially when you help to pay and set the party up? Voluntary immigrants have a real reason to celebrate this date. Understand the conflict that the posterity of Involuntary immigrants go through on this day, as we really reflect on it.
Can a captive really be accepted into the fabric of the culture? In the end, a sheep is a sheep, but lets be realistic- the black sheep does stick out! I will wish America a happy birthday and I pray that the words of the preamble include all of her citizens one day, as she continues to mature, that we all might be able to celebrate.