Tuesday, July 18, 2006
justice, not "just us"
Tonight was the 2nd session of Quest church's "Faith and Race" class. This year's approach has been at little bit more systematic this year, especially in regards to the historical roots of racism in America, tracing it all the way back to the very beginnings of colonization.
Perhaps one of the worst (and ongoing) sins in the history of America's existence has been the treatment of the original inhabitants of this land, Native Americans / Indians / American Indians. Yes, their mistreatment had political, economic, and cultural reasons in conjunction with racism, but even when the "savages" adopted the outward dress, language, and culture of the oppressors, it didn't always guarantee safety.
Case in point: the Cherokee Nation.
Despite adopting the "civilization" of the European settlers, they were still forcibly removed from their ancestral lands in 1838, herded into internment camps, and marched under armed guard, to be sent west of the Mississippi. In the aptly named Trail of Tears, it is estimated nearly a quarter to almost half of the 11,000 of the Cherokees died, most who held only what they could carry.
Greedy white settlers (who were already encroaching and harassing the Cherokees) seized the abandoned farms, houses, and property for themselves.
It became just one of many tragedies in the history of American "just us" - not justice. And it doesn't take a genius to figure out that though the idea of "just us" has been continually refined, its definition of white people versus everyone else has remained a significant part of American culture.
Land? Not for you... just us.
Equality? Not for you... just us.
The pursuit of happiness? Not for you... just us.
The privilege to vote? Not for you... just us.
Inalienable rights? Not for you... just us.
American citizen? Not for you... just us.
Recognition as a human being? Not for you... just us.
Faced with such horror, how can we begin to right the past? How can we begin to bring justice to a nation whose very foundations have been sullied so often by shameless avarice, broken promises, blind hatred, and the spilt blood of innocents?
If God has commanded those who follow him to not pervert justice, how can people of faith help to bring justice to this world?
Thing about that the next time you see a US $20 bill.
For a more comprehensive perspective on the history of the Cherokee people and their life in contemporary America, I recommend reading the book, Mankiller: A Chief and Her People. I first read it as a part of my grad program at SU and found it quite interesting.
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