Posted by: Terri Johnston Fraracci | May 11, 2016

Discrimination in the United States – a little bit of history and some food for thought

The first lines of the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence state -“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The equality declared in 1776 has been denied men and women of various races and religions at one time or another ever since. In certain instances harsh lines were drawn between “us” and “them”. Prejudice, discrimination, and intolerance often arose from fear, leading to suspicion and anger. Sadly, it’s still going on. Only understanding, respect, and tolerance will help us to move towards the realization of a more perfect union. That can’t happen as long as fear is in charge and unscrupulous people are allowed to continue to capitalize on it.

The Declaration Of Human Rights, penned by the United Nations in 1948, calls for equality again – “Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction” – Please read Articles I and II.

The call to honor the equality of human beings was declared in 1776 and again in 1948. Various laws and bills have been passed since, and yet we are still struggling in 2016 to achieve the goal of our forefathers. Some of the worst cases of discrimination in the United States included women, African-Americans, Japanese Americans, and Native Americans. There is actually an extended list of “peoples” discriminated against throughout our history. Can we truly say that these issues are totally resolved today? No, we can’t. Take a look at the news on any given day and you will see that discrimination continues to cause dis-ease in America.

Did you know that female school teachers were not allowed to marry in 1915? These rules were instated just five years before women were allowed to vote. Please see the following for a list of rules they had to follow: Rules For Teachers 1915.

Did you also know that the Civil Rights Bill of 1964 did not exclude literacy tests; resulting in still leaving many African-Americans out of the right to vote? Look at Title I: – Desegregation. That meant that if you were black and could read and write you could vote. If not, you still could not. Half measures don’t cut it.

Today’s civil human rights issues still involve women and African-Americans, among so many others (we still have a long way to go), but is currently focused on homosexuality, Mexican immigrants, and Muslim immigrants and refugees. And resolution is still so painfully far from our grasp. The teacher’s rules from the previous decade seem so silly now. What will our standards and struggles re: homosexuality and immigrants look like 100 years from now?

If the original goal of ‘a more perfect union’ is to be reached, Americans need to ask themselves how to attain that goal. How do we unite the United States? The words of our documents and bills and goals sound good; but what do our actions say? Are we a nation striving for equality and basic human rights or not? If we are, what do we need to do today to match our actions to our words?

Ask yourself what you can do. Ask yourself what it means to truly embrace your brothers and sisters without condition. And finally, ask yourself if what you say and do every day, in all your encounters and decisions, represents unity or discrimination. How you conduct yourself matters. Who you align yourself with matters. Who/what you promote matters. Who you vote for matters.

Think twice before you act, react, promote, comment, and post. Your daily conduct reveals more about you than anything you profess to believe. If you wish to see a solution to the ongoing discrimination in our country, be a solution through your own thoughtful use of word, deed, and opinion.

 

 

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