Thursday, December 11, 2014

With Liberty and Justice for All?

And if you’re growing up black in America, would that headline be true or false?

Wally will be turning seventy in a few weeks and he is still confused about that part of the Pledge of Allegiance that says, “With liberty and justice for all.”

“I was in the third grade when I first thought about that phrase,” he said.  “Even back then, I knew that it didn’t apply to me.  And it was a very unsettling thing for a third grader to suddenly realize.”

As it turned out, Wally wasn’t the only kid on his block to wonder why such an untrue phrase was included in something as important as the Pledge of Allegiance, and he and his friends talked of it often.   But as third graders, they had no understanding of poetic license and spin.  For them, liberty and justice for all, was either true or it wasn’t.

“The things we remember are probably very different from what most white people remember,” Wally wrote in an email to an old friend.  “Back then, lynching’s and police dog attacks were what we paid attention to.  And now, black kids are probably thinking about being shot by a scared and angry cop.”

Later that same day, Wally found himself discussing the recent police shootings with a white friend from his college days in Minneapolis, “I know what liberty and justice for all, means to me”, he said.  “But what does it mean to you?”

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