I want to discuss the idea of liberty both in history and now in today’s society. According to Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary liberty is “the quality or state of being free”. As we discussed in class, Americans believed that they need to go back to the Anglo-Saxon way of living and governing which was heavily influenced by the ideas of liberty and freedom. It is hard for me to imagine a time where Anglo-Saxons was a way to describe something other than just race. Thinking about it now, it makes sense why white people (in general, not everyone) think and have always thought that they are superior. It is actually based on the Anglo-Saxon’s beliefs in liberty. The revolutionaries used these Anglo-Saxon ideas in their writings and framing of American government, but eventually Anglo-Saxon begins to describe a race of people. Instead of just having Anglo-Saxon ideas as superior it seems to have transitioned to those descended from the Anglo-Saxon people (whites) were the superior people. This transition seems to show a shift in who is allotted that liberty.
Ideally, I think, liberty should be when people all have human rights and are free people under the law, but if that is so then I do not think that everyone has liberty. There was a point in time when not everyone was considered a full person (remember the Three-Fifths “compromise”), even after slaves were granted their “freedom” not everyone was allowed to vote, (women as well), and until recently, not all people were allowed to marry who they wanted to (not a race issue, but still a question of who is allowed certain rights). While our country has made strides, there is still a long way to go until all people are granted the same rights, especially for people of color.
I want to end on a suggestion. Watch the movie 13th. It is on Netflix so a majority of you will have easy access. We watched it in my ethics class and it’s a documentary about the 13th Amendment and how the wording of it actually allows for continuous enslavement of people of color under the guise of incarceration. It is a very interesting piece and it taught me a lot about a subject I had just briefly heard about. It connects what is going on in today’s political society with the politics around the Civil Rights era. It really is a well-made film and even if you do not agree with everything, it can lead to some interesting discussions.