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Descendents of Thomas Jefferson
and one of his slaves, Sally Hemings,
pose for a group photograph at
Monticello in 1999.
Tonight I was watched the Bill Moyer’s 4th of July show that I had recorded off of public television. Before the interview Bill Moyers talked about the 4th of July and its meaning. He focused on the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson. He quoted the famous line I wrote about in the posting last night: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable, Rights, that among them are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
He pointed out how Thomas Jefferson wrote of the core of human aspiration but did not live it. Jefferson owned slaves and treated them as inferior human beings with no rights. He wrote of how Jefferson is a prime example of “the oldest and longest war of all, the war between self and truth, and the war between what we know and how we live.”
My life these days seems full of this war between what we know and how we live. For the last few years as minorities have used the basketball court in the country park across the street there have been more complaints about the youth and young adults using the basketball court. At one time a few persons got the county park system to put up removable rims on the backboards, locked during the day and removed at night. They also got one rim on the full court removed to discourage youth and young adult groups from playing basketball. Finally this year we got everything organized, the full court restored, good behavior from youth and young adults and the rims left up day and night. Today I found out that two rims on the full court, which were no longer locked, were ‘stolen.’ The other two rims on half courts were not stolen. Talking with youth and young adults using the basketball court I have a hard time imagining it being one of them. Most likely it was someone talking the law into their own hands.
After Moyer’s spoke about the Declaration of Independence and did an interview with Khalil Gibran Muhammad, author of the book, “The Condemnation of Blackness, Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America”. Mr. Muhammad, being an American historian, brought the discrimination of our early Fathers like Jefferson right up to our own times, the prison system and the stopping of young African American males. He pointed out who stopping youth because they do not look right would not be tolerated if they were white in an all white community.
When we talk about the “million dollars” plus the Catholic Church has moved out of an low income predominately African American neighborhood to a white Church, when we talk about the Department of Defense military program Starbase that takes ‘at risk’ (translated low income minority students) out of the fifth grade for an introduction of the military way of life, when we talk about a Catholic University like Marquette University teaching war and killing and values contrary to the faith, not many want to hear the message since it points out the truth of what we know and what we practice.
For some ignorance is bliss and if we do not deal with the truth we know with what we do perhaps, just like the rims, the Truth will go away.