Land of the Free (Restrictions Apply)

Thousands of students recite, “liberty” and “justice” from the Pledge daily, as politicians utter these glittering generalities in their speeches. But as instances of discrimination grow rampant in our supposedly “post-modern” society, our American values fade into the background. When our founding fathers said, “liberty and justice for all,” did “all” include African-Americans? Because the vicious shooting of Alton Sterling by white police officers deadens the meaning of “justice”. As Sterling was shot, a child lost his father, countless Americans lost a friend, and family members mourned his death. But our criminal justice system is indifferent to police brutality. To the injustices that write their stories in the fate of African-Americans.

Daily Show host Hasan Minhaj said, “Civil liberties is an all-or-nothing game.” We will never truly live up to the values upon which this country was founded until we coexist with one another. Until Caucasians hold hands with African-Americans. Until a woman in a hijab can go out in public without worrying that someone will strip “freedom of religion” from the scarf she wears proudly. So in solidarity with the Muslim woman who was assaulted in an Ontario supermarket. With the Muslim doctor who was stabbed and shot at a mosque on his way to morning prayer. With the woman who was stripped of her hijab while running to catch her train in Chicago.  Our voices will be heard. Even over the political tactics that feed off prejudice. Our fight for freedom, justice, and equality reminds us that these values are inclusive. We pride ourselves on domestic security, despite that mass shootings have become a norm. Despite my uncertainty as to whether I am safe from being victimized by those who falsely assume that I am a threat to this nation’s values. Like Alton Sterling and the Muslims who have been assaulted and killed, we strive to exercise our rights in this free society. I am a friend, teammate, student, sister, and daughter to other Americans. So in the face of these injustices, I refuse to be silent. I refuse to let fear suppress my freedoms. Let’s use our voices to speak out against discrimination. Let’s live up to liberty and justice, not let these values crumble under the social injustices that dominate our political climate.

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