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 at a celebration of 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 most Americans referred to the Founding Fathers, they typically have thought of the men who produced the greatest political document of all times—the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, John Jay, James Madison et al proved to form 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, it appears they think slave owners, and when they hear the word constitution they appear to 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, non-black Americans should realize why our 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 it would be a perfect union, but formed toward a more perfect union. And we have been trying to perfect that union ever since our founding.
America 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. We all should be thankful and grateful for that.
Many people 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. Many 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 attained 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 of this week’s casualties will be released. 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.
Billy Falling is Pastor Emeritus of Faith Center of Escondido and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and the author of My Cherokee Roots: Out of the Dog Creek Hills. He resides in Chula Vista, California.
This article is from a circular email published July 23, 2012, and posted at the Christian Coalition website.
© 2012. Used by Permission
Out of the Dog Creek Hills: My Cherokee Roots
by Billy Falling
From the Cherokee reservation through a family tragedy, Bill Falling lives a dramatic life that experiences the transformation he shares with the world.
From the Introduction:
Life in the Dog Creek Hills was tough in the ’30s and ’40s…This is where my full-blood Cherokee Indian Grandmother was born in 1883…Whether you were a land owner, or a Too Late, a forced poverty was to be your lot.
For the first fourteen years of my life, I lived full throttle, flaps up, and flying at the speed of sound. I crash-landed to the sound of a shotgun blast…