America grows smaller and smaller everyday. Less and less for the huddled masses. Less and less the home of the brave.
Every now and then I find myself interrogating the question: who is America for?
Every time I think about the answer, I become less patriotic.
But I’ve never felt more ashamed of America than I do now, as America sits idly by and allows its people to die preventable deaths.
I’ve never felt more ashamed of America than watching my Wisconsin neighbors be forced to risk their lives to have their voices heard in government.
The American dream has been a hypocrisy since the country was founded. We staked a flag into stolen land claiming that everyone here would be able to have a fair shot at working their way up to success — everyone except the Native Americans we slaughtered, the blacks we enslaved, the Irish we spat at, the Japanese we imprisoned and the Jews we rejected.
From the start, America got to choose you. America deemed who was worthy of success. And now, America gets to choose who lives and dies.
As democracy decays, I so desperately want to point to someone to blame. I want to blame the white and the wealthy. I want to blame the celebrities and star athletes. I want to blame politicians and parties.
But what good would that do? Why blame people when they will soon be replaced by exact replicas? These vicious politicians were just in the right place at the right time. They are a dime a dozen. There is a never ending well of them to elect if we choose.
The elite class that America is now for is no byproduct of single individuals. It is an undergirding attitude that America has rested upon for centuries.
This attitude exists in every institution. We see it when we allow more young black people to die preventable deaths than white people. We see it when we hire men to be executives exponentially more frequently than women. We see it when we allow the voices of the elderly to go unheard in national elections because they decided not to risk their lives to vote.
We have thrived on inequality for so many years that we claim it as the status quo. We let racism and sexism and xenophobia decide who prevails in America, like a prejudiced natural selection.
We will never grow into a better nation without a radical change.
If we don’t make a conscious effort to ensure the American dream is equally attainable for everyone, it never will be.
So human resources folks, please hire people of color in leadership roles.
High school teachers, teach our kids about Lise Meitner’s work on nuclear fission when you teach physics, Caroline Hershel’s discovery of comets when you teach astronomy and Hedy Lamarr’s work on radio programming when you teach about technology.
Bankers, lend money to businesses that advance the betterment of minority groups.
Doctors, invest your time and resources in treating HIV and sickle cell anemia.
Production companies, recruit more Latinx directors, producers and screenwriters.
Semantics and political correctness will never make the grassroots changes this country needs to evolve. The only way we will emerge from the pandemic in a better place than where we started is if everyone in the country who has been privileged with a leadership position uses it to the fullest, and pushes the boundaries that haven’t even been cracked.
There is no better time for fundamental change than now.
Dana is a senior studying Journalism and Theatre. Do you think the pandemic has made it clear who this country is benefitting? Send all comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.