The Struggle of Democracy: Are Lives Being Won or Lives Being Lost?

Hey Blog Group!

Would you mind providing me with some feedback with this piece of writing?


When you are a child growing up in this country, you learn about American history in grade school. Often, you are taught to trust that historical events such as the African Slave-Trade, Japanese Concentration Camps, the lives lost in the Vietnam War, or the Holocaust stays in history, that they shaped who we were as a country—that they only live in our text books, and not in our own daily lives.  However, what happens when you learn that there are certain people in the world who, despite their hard work, determination, and ambition still find themselves, or the community that they’ve been advocating for at an institutional inequity, or at the margins of our American identity? Do you become spiteful and cynical, or do you continue to agitate, fight, or simply give up? These are the questions that I often consider when I think about this world and this nation when I reflect on our history, and our future.


When I think about the lives that have been lost this past century, but more  specifically this year with Trayvon Martin in Orlando, the slaughter of Shaima Al  Alawadi in El Cajon, California,  the killing of Masjid El-Haqq in Detroit,  the suicide of Phillip Parker in Tennessee, or the police shooting of Aiyana Stanley Jones, there seems to be a shared experience of tragedy complicated by identity, but no less themed by identity. When we consider the number of unresolved and continuous assaults of Muslim Americans post 9/11—the number of Muslim Americans who have felt persuaded to change their names that assumingly identify their ethnicity, or those who sometimes feel like Noor Ali, The Program Manager of Inter-Group Relations (IGR), whom sometimes feel unsafe to where her hijab in public, notwithstanding the remark recently by Najah Bazzy, founder of her non-profit,  Zaman International,  at the Muslim Students’ Association. According to Bazzy she often hopes that if she smiles to seemingly frightened passengers sharing a flight with her, that her “smile may become more obvious “ than her hijab. Experiences such as these mark it obvious that the level of morality that the people of this nation come to expect is shaped deeply by these narratives and experiences of disappointment and agitation for progress.  The deaths of Shaima and Trayvon for instance, highlight concurrent national discussions surrounding power over privilege, integration complicated by isolation, but in particular its double consciousness.


While America is often concerned about how its image of human progress, democracy, innovation, social advancement, human rights, and economic growth is seen around the world, this country struggles with realizing these goals for itself. There is a level of insecurity that is had by this country to tell the world of this challenge,  that is not seen in its eagerness to tell of its modernity.  Engaging with these understandings have been difficult and continuous. It is a question that is interesting and made curious because people, nations–traditionally developing nations—have turned to America to be an example of the social or governmental change they wish to see in their own country.  So far, the continuous activism of The Occupy Movement, and the current social protest and outcry heard surrounding Trayvon and Shaima’s death, assume that this nation is still looking to save itself, too.



So, what’s the difference between history and our reality? Is there a dirty truth to history that we don’t learn about in grade school? Has our world really changed since then, until now? How are such textbook publishers as McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Houghton Mifflin choosing to tell the stories that we as Americans remember, including to our children developing a national identity for the very first time, and to the world learning about who we are as a nation, and how we identify?


Well, currently, at a very early grade school children throughout the American education system, including patriots of this country, and our friends around the world, who we aid in times of economic blight and natural disaster, are being told a conflicting story that recent misfortunes contradict to be true: that the fight for equality and human progress has been won. The American Constitution is often being cited as proof of that achievement. However, the human tragedies of murder, slander, the marginalization of specific identities throughout our airports and in our neighborhoods, as well as the separation of our communities in this nation suppose that The Constitution should not be considered to tell of how glorious our nation is or how successful we are, but instead how far we have to go.


courtesy of Huffington Post

Brittany Smith

University of Michigan (first year) senior, Detroit native.

Leave a Reply