ZS Unit 1 Blog
How do American citizens today exhibit hypocritical notions of colonial-era citizenship?
It has been said that, “If people don’t learn about the past, its bound to repeat itself in the future”. I use this quote because the concept being conveyed can be applied to modern day American society. Americans today unknowingly ignore a key component of our history. This blemish in our society is racism. Throughout history Americans have celebrated our forefathers as a sign of nationalism. We put our forefathers on a pedestal and neglect to see most of their flaws. This lack of awareness has caused Americans to repeat the same mistakes. Firstly, our forefathers may have been visionaries but they were blind to the injustice happening in their society. Furthermore, we are also blind to those inequalities today and don’t notice that we have made the same mistakes.
Our forefathers and the society they lived in was less than perfect; they may have made leaps and bounds morally with the establishment of religious freedom but were still very primitive in terms of racial and gender equality. The colonists wanted religious freedom, yet they neglect other races and genders. A perfect example of this injustice is show through a quote in Howard Zinn’s book, A People’s History of The United States. In chapter nine, Zinn wrote, “The slaves were made serfs and chained to the soil. . . . Such was the boasted freedom acquired by the colored man at the hands of the Yankee.” This clearly shows how slaves were mistreated. Although slavery is not an unknown tragedy, the people responsible for allowing this to happen were not held responsible.
On the surface the Declaration of Independence preaches equality but in actuality is a farce and should be re-written. This document was supposed to free people from religious persecution, unfair laws, and taxes levied upon the colonists, emancipating them from the English, yet the colonists still kept slaves. They moved from religious persecution to racial persecution. They did win their religious freedom yet were oppressors of other races and gender. They kept slaves and didn’t give the women of their society any rights.
Even today we make strides towards equality but never truly seem to be equal. With all the improvements in civil rights there is still a lot of work to be done. For example, in 1989, Rodney King was beaten by officers of the LAPD, which was caught on video (https://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/lapd/lapd.html). The four officers were later tried but acquitted, sparking one of the biggest riots in US history. This is just another celebrated milestone in American history that overshadows the real problems and injustices in our society similar to what happened during the colonial-era.
In summation, modern day American society has many parallels to colonial-era society. Both societies celebrated huge advancements in civil rights yet neglected the remaining issues in their societies. This is not the first time it has happened in America. Furthermore, this happens when we overlook the true racist nature of the colonial society in America. Lastly, this is prevalent in modern day civil rights.
Zinn, Howard. “Chapters 1 (Columbus, the Indians, and Human Progress) through Chapter 9 (As Long as Grass Grows or Water Runs).” A People’s History of the United States. New York: Harper Perennial, 2010. Print.
Declaration of Independence.” Ushistory.org. 23 Sept. 2003. Web. 28 Jan. 2011. .