Social Justice and Racial Equality

All citizens of the United States should have equal access to opportunity and justice. This idea is enshrined in a founding document of our country. The Declaration of Independence says:

“… all men are created equal… they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights… among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”[i]

Our society, however, is marked by significant inequality between African Americans and White Americans.

To give just a few examples, U.S. census data reveal dramatic differences with regard to income:

In 2016, the median income of White households was $99,313, while that of Black households was $16,539 (Table 1).  In 2016, 22% of Blacks lived in poverty, while 11% percent of Whites lived in poverty (Table 3).[ii]

With regard to education, 34% of Whites had completed 4 years of college or more, while 23% of blacks had completed four years of college or more in 2016 (Table A-2).

These census figures demonstrate clearly that equality has not been achieved between White and Black Americans in their “right” to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.[iii]

 

According to the Bible, Proverbs 31: 9

“Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.”

 

We have a moral responsibility to recognize (not ignore), express our concern publicly (“open thy mouth”), and work to address the basic needs of the poor.

There is never a wrong place or a wrong time to call for social justice and racial equality.

And this idea is enshrined in the Bill of Rights:

“Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”[iv]

By the way, none of the founding documents of our country (The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States, or the Bill of Rights) makes reference to a “flag” or what a citizen’s duty is toward a “flag.”

The flag is an important symbol to many Americans, but the status of the flag is separate from our responsibility to advocate for those less fortunate and for equality of opportunity, and the status of the flag is irrelevant to our right to freedom of speech.

 

References:

[i] https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript

[ii] https://www.census.gov/data/tables/2017/demo/income-poverty/p60-259.html

[iii] https://www.census.gov/data/tables/2016/demo/education-attainment/cps-detailed-tables.html

[iv] https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/bill-of-rights-transcript

8 thoughts on “Social Justice and Racial Equality

  1. Blacks may be lacking in income and education. But the opportunities are there for them. To many of them seem to want free handouts.

    As far as the flag goes, it was it represents. Men died defending that representation so others can be free. That should not be trampled on.

    • I disagree with any assertion that Black citizens of the United States have equal opportunity to White citizens. The slavery and legalized segregation and discrimination that are part of our recent history still have residual negative effects on the prospects and opportunities available to Black Americans today. Because I cannot argue this better than did Supreme Court Justice Marshall’s dissenting opinion in the 1978 “Bakke” case, I quote his words:

      “… it must be remembered that, during most of the past 200 years, the Constitution… did not prohibit the most ingenious and pervasive forms of discrimination against the Negro…

      Three hundred and fifty years ago, the Negro was dragged to this country in chains to be sold into slavery. Uprooted from his homeland and thrust into bondage for forced labor, the slave was deprived of all legal rights. It was unlawful to teach him to read; he could be sold away from his family and friends at the whim of his master; and killing or maiming him was not a crime…

      The status of the Negro as property was officially erased by his emancipation at the end of the Civil War. But the long-awaited emancipation, while freeing the Negro from slavery, did not bring him citizenship or equality in any meaningful way. Slavery was replaced by a system of laws which imposed upon the colored race onerous disabilities and burdens, and curtailed their rights in the pursuit of life, liberty, and property to such an extent that their freedom was of little value….The combined actions and inactions of the State and Federal Governments maintained Negroes in a position of legal inferiority for another century after the Civil War…

      States expanded their Jim Crow laws, which had, up until that time, been limited primarily to passenger trains and schools. The segregation of the races was extended to residential areas, parks, hospitals, theaters, waiting rooms, and bathrooms. There were even statutes and ordinances which authorized separate phone booths for Negroes and whites, which required that textbooks used by children of one race be kept separate from those used by the other…

      The position of the Negro today in America is the tragic but inevitable consequence of centuries of unequal treatment…

      At every point from birth to death, the impact of the past is reflected in the still disfavored position of the Negro.”

      Reference: https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/438/265

  2. Wonderful words by one who is continuing to educate people. Thank you for providing your insight. Well said and well documented!

  3. I agree with you. I wish history was still a priority Class in schools. The ignorant could learn so much. Lessons learned might mean mistakes and cruelties are not repeated. Shame on all of America if we do not heed the lessons.

  4. Sporting events ask people to stand for the national anthem to honor to those who are serving in the military and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Protesting, by taking a knee during the anthem, seems to be disrespectful of the people who have served to allow us the freedoms that we have. I totally agree with you about discrimination, and the need to change, I just don’t like dishonoring the very people who gave us the right to protest.

  5. Those who have served in the military (including my father, my grandfather, my nephew, and so many more) do deserve our respect, honor, and gratitude. I believe that many of those who have served would be and are proud of those who stand up or kneel down in the name of justice, dignity, and equality. This is one of the benefits of being an American: we have the freedom to peacefully protest without being censored as to when or where.

Comments are closed.