Friday, November 9, 2012

A history of rights in post-election 2012

Since it was announced that Obama was reelected on Tuesday, a lot has been going on in the world of social media.  Some people are overjoyed.  Others... not so much.

This Tumblr, "White People Mourning Romney," has been making the rounds.  I thought I'd take a peek, see what all the fuss was about.  But instead of giggling at silly reactions of children falling on the floor or people caught on camera in unflattering ways, I was somewhat disturbed by some of the comments posted.

Many people posted about our country having no morals.  One post discussed the opening of a new "anti-gay" Chick-Fil-A restaurant as a sort of coping mechanism for sad Romney supporters.  Still other posts talked about how our country has been flushed down the toilet and how the United States is now going to be socialist.

From what is posted on this site, many people quote the founding fathers and the foundation that our country was built upon.  I encourage you to look at the site on your own.

 I started to think.... and this is what I've come up with...

Our country was founded on freedom and liberty, that is true.  But what many of us forget is that our country was founded on freedom and liberty... for white, land-owning males.  Seriously.

Only in 1868, with the 14th Amendment, did all white men gain eligibility to vote.

Our country was also founded on principles of slavery.  We literally sold humans.  We carted them over from their home land to sell. We beat them, raped them and killed them.  Not our finest moment (to put it mildly).  Even our presidents owned slaves.

It wasn't until the 15th Amendment in 1870 that black men (still only men) were allowed to vote.  Yet, these men were still discriminated against.

And what about women?  Surely white women had their rights before former slaves?  No.  In fact, not until the 19th Amendment in 1920 were women given the right to vote.  That's within the lifetime of some of our living grandparents.  There are people alive today who were not legally allowed to vote at one point.

But who cares about voting, right?  What about other rights?

Well, until Loving vs. Virginia came to the Supreme Court in 1967, interracial marriage was illegal in much of the United States.  A black woman could not marry a white man.  A white woman could not marry a black man.  It was literally illegal.  You could go to jail for it.

But what about in the workplace?  We're all equal there, right?  Because the United States was founded on liberty and freedom!

In 1963, the equal pay act was passed, making it illegal to pay a woman less for the same job a man would do.  However, even today, women make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes in the workplace.  And the number of stories I have heard from my mother from back in the 1980's about sexual harassment in the workplace is astounding.

This is a lot of background.  Thank you for sticking with me.  Now is where I get to my point...

With the exception of rich, white men, we have all had to fight at some point in history to get where we are today.  Racial minorities, women, poor... pretty much all of us has an ancestor who stood up for our rights.  They faced discrimination, they faced backlash and people who said that our country was not founded on principles of them having rights.  The United States was founded on liberty and freedom.  The problem is that each generation, who is happy with their own rights and freedoms seems to disregard that there are still others fighting to earn their own rights and freedoms in the 21st century.

On Tuesday afternoon, I went and stood in line at the polls.  I huffed and puffed while some girl cut in line in front of me.  I tapped my feet while the tiny room jostled with people and I quickly filled out my ballot and ran off to go to work.  But when you really stop and think about it.. there was a woman less than 100 years ago that stood in line, marched down the street, cheered, picketed, made signs, screamed, and fought her little booty off for me to impatiently cast that ballot.  How ungrateful am I?

With that in mind, I hope we all look to our roots and remember that America wasn't really founded on the freedom and liberty we like to think it was founded on.  Very few Americans today would argue that slavery is still the right choice for America, or that a black and white person couldn't marry.  In fact, many people might scoff reading this post.  People might laugh that I make such a preposterous statement - because in today's society, it is ridiculous that I suggest that a person not be allowed to vote because of the color of their skin or their gender or the money in their pocket.

So my kumbaya moment is this... putting aside the Bibles and the religious beliefs... perhaps it's time that our government, and only our government, recognize all people... every last single solitary person... as an equal.  Maybe it's time.  Because history has proven that after yelling and foot stomping and trying to prevent desegregated schools or stopping women working... these people still prevail.

In the 2012 election, Maryland, Washington and Maine passed laws for gay marriage.  Given what I wrote, do you think this was the right decision?  Is this still too big of an issue for the American people?  Please courteously continue the conversation in the comments section below!

1 comment:

  1. I love this. Win or lose, the real win is having a two party system. And appreciating the sacrifices people have made to get here is essential to fighting to keep the process. It is amazing live long enough to see the world change. More amazing is to live long enough to let the world change me...for the better.