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- Growing Up Bronx
I was born in Puerto Rico in the year 1977. By this time, Puerto Rico was long a commonwealth of the United States of America. This afforded me the great privilege of being born an American citizen. As a citizen, I recognize the privileges that I am granted, and it is never lost on me that I was born in one of, if not the single greatest nation in the world today.
At the age of 19, I joined the United States Air Force. For 8 years I served the country as an Airman in the greatest Air Force there ever was. I am proud to have worn the uniform, and I’m proud of my service to this great nation. It was an honor to serve in the greatest military that mankind has ever known, alongside some of the greatest heroes of our time.
All that being said, the United States is not without her faults. We are a land of freedom, opportunity, great fortune, and wealth. However, we are also a land of poverty, inequality, abuses, and systemic oppression. Sure, some of our poor live better than even the Kings of old once did. This is a true, irrefutable fact. Yet, that doesn’t change the fact that all this we have was built on the back of slave labor. It doesn’t change the fact that even today, the repercussions of those beginnings are still being felt by people of color. In this country, being black, or dark skin, can make you a target for hate, discrimination, and abuse not only by those in power, but civilians alike.
We are a great nation, a nation of laws that provides it’s citizens a level of safety that is not available to everyone in the world. But, that safety is not always allocated equally. The war on drugs is a perfect example of this. Blacks and Latinos have been targeted for years during this alleged war, and because of this, our prisons are filled to the brim with brown and black people. This war though, it doesn’t apply to white neighborhoods, nor to the wealthy. By the way, are you aware of how instrumental the Clintons were in this coming be?
The rich and the powerful, much like in any other hierarchical society built on white supremacy, have special rules applied to them. This is a land where crime is not punished equally. Not by a long shot. The fact of the matter is that a white man will get little to no time in prison, for a drug possession crime that could keep a Latino or Black person incarcerated for months, years, and even life.
Elizabeth Warren, while grilling Wells Fargo CEO, John Stumpf about the cross selling scam, repeated over and over, how someone who is a minimum wage worker would most likely lose their job, and face criminal charges, for a much lower level crime than the massive fraud that he and his staff had committed.
Recently, we saw how Brock Turner only spent 3 months in JAIL for rape, while a black man could spend months simply awaiting trial for the same crime. There is a presumption of guilt, based on your skin color, and socioeconomic status.
Anthony Wright spent 25 years behind bars for a rape/murder he didn’t commit. Thanks to the Innocence Project, and DNA evidence, he was proven to be innocent. But, he will never get that quarter of a century back. He spent more time in prison, (25 years) than he had been alive as a free man, (arrested at 20 years old) for a crime he didn’t even commit.
Meanwhile, Brock Turner spent a mere 3 months in jail, for a crime he undoubtedly committed. Yet, you expect me to act as though we don’t have any problems in this nation? I can cite many more instances of the same ilk, but Brock Turner should suffice to make my point. If you want more, take a look at several individuals who have been jailed for life, for non-violent crimes, such as stealing a $159 coat!
There are people who wish the nation harm. In some cases, they may be justified, in others not. However, we are also a nation that has meddled in the affairs of many countries, sometimes leaving behind devastating results. Our actions have created refugees, orphans, and surely some seriously long standing grudges. Am I justifying terror? No, I am not, but there are consequences to the actions our leaders take on behalf of the nation.
Vietnam, and Iraq are two relatively recent examples of nations that we ravaged, for reasons which I believe were not entirely righteous. Let it be clear that this is not an attack on our troops, it is an attack on the politicians, and policies which used our troops to fatten up their own greedy politician pockets. It sickens me that they wage wars that I perceive are unnecessary, at the expense of American, and foreign life alike.
The United States is a great nation, but she can be better. Talking about our flaws is not an attack on the land, but simply constructive criticism which can be used to improve. Not talking about things does not make them go away, and it doesn’t make them untrue. Talking about our flaws doesn’t mean we hate the land. In fact, I’d argue that it means we love the land more, so much so that we are willing to confront our demons in hopes of making things better for everyone and not just the elite.
That’s why I love, and criticize the United States of America.
Growing Up Bronx