Four centuries as pillars of the United States

As Trump destroys our democracy, look to the builders the stones rejected

Sam McKenzie Jr.
Jan 13 · 4 min read

With the pundits lamenting Trump as an authoritarian and the great destroyer of our democracy, it’s necessary to remember who built America’s democracy.

Black people built America’s democracy.

Facts first — white people stole and started a racist and sexist nation on the lands of Native people with enslaved Africans.

That grim reality is the fathering that the founding fathers fathered. Those facts, fully in the nation's face, should never dim in the minds of those who call themselves Americans.

The fathers, who only favored men with their complexion, never intended for America to be a democracy in the true sense of the word.

America’s future may be in question, but America’s history isn’t all bad. From the beginning, Black people demanded a nation with liberty and justice for all.

For four centuries, enslaved Africans and Black Americans resisted, revolted, and used every rhetorical device to call America to live out its ideals in word and in deed.

Even with allies, Black Americans have been at the forefront of their own liberty.

Black Americans have always said, “America is in a constitutional crisis.”

Where white America wrote and stated its great values of democracy, Black Americans exposed the holes and the hypocrisies in the brand.

White supremacy destroys democracy, and it lies about democracy. On its best days, it can verbalize inalienable rights. But on every day, it calls anyone an alien who doesn’t fit its latest definition of white.

If white supremacy isn’t raging to turn back time, it will make people stay in place. White supremacy is not un-American, it is in America’s DNA, but it is undemocratic.

The oppressive sole of America is from the greed of white supremacy. But America’s oppositional soul — the soul that says what America should be — is from Black insistence and Black resistance.

Without Black lives, America has no democracy.

America’s democracy came from wars financed by profits from enslaved Black people. America’s democracy came from 300+ revolts by enslaved Africans and Black people. America’s democracy came from numerous denouncements, protests, and petitions by Black thinker-activists over centuries.

Every movement for Black lives is a transformative template that extends democracy here and around the world.

In his book, How Blacks Built America, Dr. Joe Feagin, a sociologist, lays and layers every brick of unassailable truth about the central and steady role Black people had, and have, in building America.

Black people built America’s wealth, power, culture, and infrastructure, and the true founders of resistance, dissent, and democracy were Black.

The “demo” in democracy is Black.

No other racial group, on the whole, has lived and generated more resistance strategies and sharp critique to shape America’s democracy than Black people. None. The sharp shaping is happening at this moment.

Based on Blackness, which is how humanity starts to count, these United States have only been democratic in practice since passing the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968.

America’s democracy and freedom tracks back to Black people and people of color.

Here’s the truth — whatever white America said was all a lie until Black people and people of color lived it too.

America’s democracy is fifty-some-odd years young. That’s the true age of the democracy in America now.

Black resistance birthed America’s democracy.

Historically, most Black Americans stand with the political party most likely to expand democracy.

While both major political parties have failed the nation, many Black Americans — especially Black women, Black trans people, and Black queer people — are the direct agitators, barometers, and meteorologists of democracy.

Democracy starts with a “B” for Black because Black people are the veritable veterans of this democracy.

Trump may shut down and bring down the little democracy America has left. That could be bad.

But the first and worst issue is white America follows the takers and the fakers instead of democracy’s makers.

We won’t wait.

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Sam McKenzie Jr.

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I combat racism and whiteness with verbicide and literary devices. |

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