Every morning the school bell would ring and there I would stand with my right hand on my heart:
“…One Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
 In my elementary school days, I would recite every word of this country’s mantra, proud to be a citizen of this great nation. Or so I thought. In recent days, that hand has become too heavy to hold up and my voice has grown weak.
I have never been the protesting type. In my mind, this country has never done me wrong, at least not directly, so I felt no reason to speak out. 
 Of course I learned about Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Angela Davis, Mary McLeod Bethune, Ruby Bridges, Maya Angelou, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and all of the others, but yet it seems as though their labor were almost in vain. 
The list of black men and women killed at the hands of white supremacy should cause this country to look in the mirror in shame. Do not get me wrong, there has been progress since that first slave ship landed on this land 395 years ago.
Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Oscar GrantEzell Ford, Rodney King, John Crawford, Aiyana StanleySean Bell, Patrick Dorismond, Amadou DialloCorey M. Brown, DeAunta Terrel FarrowDerrick JonesEmmett Till, Guy Jarreau Jr., Jimmell Cannon, Kenneth Harding, Kiwane Carrington, Orlando Barlow, Ousmane Zongo, Ramarley Graham, Reginald Doucet, Rekia Boyd, Ronald Madison, Steven Eugene Washington, Tarika Wilson, Travares McGill, Victor Steen, Wendell Allen, Trayvon Martin, and that list goes on as well. 
Me, Desiree Houston, Lakeisha St. Joy, and Jasmine Jemeison march in a non-violent protest at Boston College. Photo Cred: Emily Fahey/BC Heights
Me, Desiree Houston, Lakeisha St. Joy, and Jasmine Jemeison march in a non-violent protest at Boston College. Photo Cred: Emily Fahey/BC Heights
I have never been the protesting type, however I have always been an American. I was born and raised in this country, and it’s my constitution that ensure Liberty and Justice for ALL of its citizens. The blood, sweat, and tears of black men and women helped build this country into what it is today. I’m not asking for much. I don’t want 40 acres and a mule, because it’s a little late for that; I just want liberty and justice for those who share my complexion. And you know what hurts the most? The fact that I currently attend a liberal arts institution and am more vulnerable to this harassment than ever before. We call ourselves educated and yet we still have “colleagues” calling us thugs, gorillas and of course, good old-fashioned N——s. 
I was not ever raised to be a victim, and I will not be one now, but something must be done. I am hurt by institutional racism. I am repulsed by black on black crime, but livid due to white on black violence as well. Most of all I am disappointed with the African-Americans of these “United” States. We have become so comfortable in this country that we forgot that respect is not given, but earned. There are so many factors to this argument, so many levels and complexities that I myself cannot wrap my head around it, but in the end we are all at fault for where this country is now.
“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”
Churchill was right, because history has taken a complete 360, and something must be done to break the cycle. I do not have answers, but the first step to change is unity on both sides. We must all realize where we have gone wrong and be willing to change. 
Nowadays, I rarely hear the Pledge of Allegiance, but at sporting events (I watch a lot of those), I hear the national anthem:
“…O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
o’er the land of the free
and the home of the brave?”
No it does not. But until it does my arms will lay at my sides, unable to hold the heart which once beat with pride for this country. 
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