America has survived an astonishing 236 years now. In my opinion, that’s a blessing. Let’s consider all of the strife we have endured: a war in 1812, the solemn fratricidal war of a north that rejected a peculiar institution and a south that so desperately depended on it (we all know that there were many causes for the civil war, but that’s a conversation for another day), two World Wars and a myriad of other issues, conflicts and events that might have destroyed any other nation. As Americans we enjoy many freedoms, which some would say make us the “envy” of the world. However, right here within our borders, those same freedoms are often the cause of intense and sometimes vitriolic debate, debate that is truly unbecoming of what the American brand is supposed to represent.
Just the other day, Chris Rock, one of the most well-known comedians in the world, tweeted “ Happy white peoples independence day the slaves weren’t free but I’m sure they enjoyed the fireworks.” Now, most would consider that unpatriotic and insensitive of Rock to make comments as such. I just can’t seem to see why they’d have such a problem, even with the explanations that have been given. Those who are critical and seek to make an example out of Rock should think twice. We have to remember that he is a comedian and it is in his nature to make comments as such. Even in looking at his comments as political farce, we still have to recognize that the enormity of truth that surrounds the statement.
America and certain Americans, always try and have always tried to downplay the true history of this nation, which was founded in a cloud of hypocrisy. So when Rock says “Happy white peoples independence day” he is simply giving us the true history, but in his comedic way. This is not at all unpatriotic, but one of the highest forms of patriotism one can show. It has always amazed me how people will attack someone for challenging their nation to do better, especially when the basic precepts upon which we founded have not been fully achieved. Rock, like so many other Americans understands this and spoke on it.
While it may not have been in some eloquent fashion, his simplicity got the message across. America, he is saying, you have a dark past. A past that she must fully recognize and not suppress. A past that has not been perfect at all but has allowed to us get better with each test. A past that has brought us to the point that we are at now, perfecting our Union and breaking down many of the walls that once stood in the way of that progress. Those slaves who weren’t allowed to enjoy those early Independence Days can look down with great admiration at how far we have come, especially knowing that a black man now occupies the house in the city in which they built.
When Jefferson wrote the magnificent words of the Declaration of Independence, we all know too well that he asserted that human equality was “self-evident.” Also self-evident was the inequity that existed, not only in his life, but also in the lives of many of our nation’s forefathers. The one central lesson we must take from Chris Rock’s comments and the thousands of others is that we must be open and honest in all aspects of the empirical truth of inequity in this land we love so dearly. This is what we should do as Americans so that we may be able to press forward toward the true vision of the Declaration. Our mission as good Americans and true patriots must always be to imagine and create a political society that is better, breaks down more walls and that is more free than our current state. Until that day, God Bless America.
How do you all feel about Chris Rock’s comments? Were they unpatriotic? Is this an example of free speech or foolish speech? Do you feel we as Americans have a responsibility to challenge the nations past in order to secure a better future? I’m interested in knowing your what y’all think!