"All men are created equal"
This is the line of hope that the United States of America continues to pride itself on; the line that many continue to accept as a stem of reality; the line that many seek to live and experience.
But for many, this line seldom applies.
What many fail to see and acknowledge is the reality of life for black Americans in America. To accurately represent such a reality, I have amended the above statement:
"All are born but not all are meant to survive or live"
The state of survival is the state of continuing to exist. The state of survival is not always by a fact of active sustainability but is maintained through the enforcement of the concept of “bare life”, coined by an Italian philosopher named Giorgio Agamben. “Bare Life” constitutes the theory of “life which has been reduced to biology whilst the person's political existence has been withdrawn by those who have the power to define who is included and who is excluded as worthy, sovereign human beings..” (Rohan Banerjee, New Statesman)
Living and Surviving are not the same. For black Americans, their existence itself doesn’t necessarily equate to the act of living. Living is the ability for one to have/maintain control over one’s own actions, decisions, and destiny through opportunities of growth, while surviving is the act of opposing death, it means staying away from things that threaten the livelihood of human survival.
For example, surviving is ensuring that a human is successful in the maintenance of biological human needs (like that of being fed, hydrated, etc…). The overall concept of survival is to maintain a bare level of a human’s heartbeat, regardless of the method behind such a choice.
Not all are meant to survive; not all are meant to live; not all are meant to reap the benefits of human life on this earth.
For some time, I have been sitting with my thoughts regarding my place as a black American in America. I have, for 19 years, lived in a nation and in a world that has failed myself, my brothers, my sisters, and my ancestors.
Growing up, I supported this notion of equality. That being equality for all; that notion that everyone can be equal, that everyone can be treated equally regardless of who they are.
I then began to learn about a greater notion of equity. Equity is giving everyone what they need to be successful.
A few days ago I would praise the notion of equality, but I no longer do so. To be frank, there is a lack of liberation in the concept of equality. Giving people an equal level of resources isn’t beneficial or effective to their own goals and desires.
For example, providing a black woman and a white woman with the same resources and opportunities will not result in them receiving the same results, as neither the black woman nor the white woman began in the same position, with the same resources, and opportunities. Some resources may get one farther than the other, thus dismantling the concept that is equality.
Equality doesn’t solve the issue, it only exacerbates the issue.
Equality to me is no longer the solution to the problem of systemic oppression in the United States. Though I believe in equity and the notion of equity, I no longer believe that equity is the solution either.
With equality and equity, there still remain barriers to reach certain levels of achievement, so why not just dismantle such barriers? Why settle for a society with barriers when we can actively seek a society that lacks any remnants of barriers?
The sole solution to systemic oppression in the United States is the notion of providing liberation to the oppressed. The only plausible solution is liberation. The literal definition of liberation is “the act or process of freeing someone or something from another’s control” (The Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary)
Black people survive in a country, that, from its origins, institutionally bounded them to the status of property; property that, through capitalistic values, was bounded by legal enforcement. America is a nation that was built on the exploitation of black labor for profit to benefit the white platform. The domestication of, selling of, and preservation of black people as slaves was a reality that was perpetuated in every American institution, value, and law.
Equality and equity cannot and will not mend the reality of the black experience in America. Even if, in a perfect world, black Americans received equity, and were able to seek some sort of progress, it would still be contingent upon white America’s decision to step back and allow black Americans to get their fair share.
Where is the liberation in that? Liberation should never be contingent upon the oppressed “waiting” their turn to break their shackles, it should always be contingent upon the oppressed creating and shaping their own opportunities so that no shackles actually exist.I urge everyone to stop relying solely on equality and equity to seek institutional progression for the oppressed. The only way to seek progression is to seek liberation where all boundaries to succeed are dismantled and the opportunity to be is celebrated and encouraged.