Speaking as a Non-Coward
For Immediate Release July 24, 2012
Speaking as a Non-Coward
By Billy Falling
On February 18, 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder referred to the American People as “essentially a nation of cowards” regarding any public discussion of race in the U.S. He was speaking as the first African American Attorney General to an overflow crowd at the Justice Department who were celebrating Black History month. As a Native American non-coward I would like to take issue with that statement, and submit my views on the subject of race in our nation.
First, I want to address the mindset and attitude of the majority of the black community toward our country as a whole. When white Americans refer to our Founding Fathers, we think of the men who produced the greatest political document of all times, the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, John Jay, James Madison et al have proven to be the greatest political genesis of all of history. Our constitution has provided more freedom for more people for a longer period of time than any other political document. From the Federalist Papers we can understand each word, each phrase, and every concept that was originally intended for the final document. We revere the document and celebrate its authors.
On the other hand, when the majority of black Americans hear the words “Founding Fathers” they think, “slave owners” and when they hear the word “constitution” they think, “slavery.” There is clearly a divide between black and white regarding our heritage and the support and defense of it. There is a need for an attitude adjustment on both sides.
First, white Americans should realize why out black brothers think the way they do. After all, it took a civil war, the civil rights movement, the voter rights act, and over two-hundred and twenty years to bring us to where we are today, with a black president and a black attorney general. The Preamble to our constitution states, “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union….” It does not state that this was a “perfect union,” but was being formed as a “more perfect union.” And we have been perfecting that union ever since our founding.
We did not invent slavery, but to the contrary: Slavery was worldwide when America was founded, and as a nation, we have done more to set people free from slavery and tyranny than any other nation on earth. Black America should be thankful and grateful for that.
Black Americans need an attitude adjustment when it comes to race. Our nation leads the world in the war against injustice, discrimination, and inequalities. Here in the USA, blacks have equal rights; they seem to want “special rights.” Just as women were not equal in their suffrage at the beginning of our nation, they now have equal standing as we have continued to strive for a “more perfect union.” Native Americans did not receive universal voting rights until 1925, over fifty years after black Americans were given the right to vote. In fact, they were not even counted on the census until 1910. If anyone has any room to complain about injustices, it is we Native Americans.
Today, all races in the United States should be proud that we are Americans. Unlike Michele Obama, no other event need occur to be proud of our country. It is one of the greatest privileges of all of human history to be a citizen of the United States. There is no other country that I would rather live in and there is no other country that I envy over the USA. Last Sunday, the Pentagon released the names of nine Americans whose flag draped coffins carried them home from the war in Afghanistan. Next Sunday other names will be released of this week’s casualties. They give their lives for our freedom and the freedoms of other people. What country in the world exists today where their citizens are giving their lives for our freedoms?
My next-door neighbor is black. In the church where I worship, there are blacks, whites, browns, and at least two Native Americans. At the last company where I worked before retirement, one of my best friends was black. Mr. Holder, I am not a coward. Now, if you are serious about improving race relations, teach these points I have gone over to the black community in America, including your boss, the president, and let’s join our souls together as Americans and continue to strive for a “more perfect union” with equal rights for everyone, and special rights for no one. America doesn’t owe me anything; I owe America everything. I get to live here as a U.S. citizen. That’s better than citizenship in any African nation that I know of. Think about that. -30-
Billy Falling is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and the author of MY CHEROKEE ROOTS: OUT OF THE DOG CREEK HILLS. He resides in Chula Vista, CA.