Kenneth L. Hardin: This land was not made for you and me
Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 1, 2023
As I watched another busload of migrants being used as political pawns without regard for their lives or safety, it brought to mind what the late writer and biochemistry professor Isaac Asimov said, “When stupidity is considered patriotism, it’s unsafe to be intelligent.”
I questioned why Texas Governor Greg Abbot would be so callous and insensitive in essentially kidnapping these people, who are in search of a better life than the one they escaped from. Why would you use your office and authority to engage in political theater by dumping people into the brutal cold of Washington D.C. and New York? Back in September, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis chartered two planes filled with migrants and sent them to Martha’s Vineyard thinking this would punish the wealthy residents. Instead, they responded with humanity. This is what’s wrong with our Country today. Unnecessarily exposing young children to sub-freezing conditions is not a sign of loving or protecting our Country. This stunt will do nothing to impact immigration policy or relieve the migrant flood at the Texas border. All It does is show the world we can be a callous and inhumane nation.
Performative politics has allowed culture hustling professional politicians to stop caring about this Country as true patriots do. When you have politicians making videos of themselves spraying flamethrowers and shooting shotguns instead of offering solutions to the gun and drug crisis, trying to improve our standing in the world or even reducing the heat on the divisive rhetoric that has resulted in hate inspired brutality, this land doesn’t feel like it was made for you and me. The sanctimonious arrogance of politicians who preach love, unity, and inclusion, especially on MLK Day, but fall silent when instances like the immoral bus kidnappings and other hate inspired incidents occur, they drip heavy down the face of this Country like biting into a ripe fruit, and watching the juice run down the chin of America. It’s sadly funny how we always want to talk about the importance of diversity, but conveniently forget the inclusion part. It’s like you feel bad that people outside of the mainstream are catching hell, but not enough to actually put policies and actions in place to prevent or stop it.
I recently enjoyed a documentary on the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Ratified in 1868, it supposedly righted previous citizenship wrongs and gave everyone the illusion they had those full rights. It also lulled the brother man and the other man into believing they enjoyed equal protection under the law if they were born or naturalized here. If that was true, why are we still begging for Black Lives to Matter, needing anti-Asian and LGBTQ hate legislation, or the Times Up and Me-Too movements today? Watching the documentary made my mind wander back to being a wide-eyed 3rd grader in the 1970’s naïvely belting out how “This Land is My Land.” I had no idea where the Redwood Forest was located nor if the Gulfstream waters actually existed, but I bought into the myth that they belong equally to me. As I puffed out my little 9-year-old chest and threw my head back singing loudly, I imagined as an adult I would be able to live out the symbolic meaning of the words I was forced to sing. I wonder if my ancestors felt this was their land as their slave owners freely, “went walking that ribbon of highway.” Did my beaten and brutalized people see the same sky as their owners and say they, “saw above me that endless skyway?” Their skies were probably filled with storm clouds as they fell down on their knees and looked upward to God to save them from the inhumanity they were immersed in. My ancestors never, “Saw below me that golden valley” or felt, “This land was made for you and me.” For them, “When the sun come shining” they were already in the cotton fields picking at the branches that would tear through their fingers piercing straight through their heart and soul. So no, I don’t feel they believed then nor do I believe today, “This land was made for you and me.” If this was truly my land, then why does it hurt so much physically and emotionally just to exist here? If the 14th Amendment was so powerful, then why do I have so many conversations with other skinfolk about how exhausting it is to be Black in America?
For those who take exception to my words and feel compelled to tell me to go back to Africa if I’m not happy here, consider yourselves blessed you don’t have to carry any mental or emotional burdens nor do you have to fear being put on a bus and taken somewhere you are unfamiliar.
Kenneth L. “Kenny” Hardin is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists.