Lady in the Bay… Warmth of Sankofa By Mae Catherine Godhigh

Testing day was fast approaching. Our assignment was to memorize the words of Emma Lazarus. Her words are memorialized on the Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the door!”

There I sat, a non-optimistic fifth grader, in a classroom with more questions than answers. Call it a failure of my imagination but I could not reconcile the meaning of Lady Liberty’s message or identify her audience.

Do you think it had anything to do with watching American leaders being publicly executed on television? Anguished Americans, watched as commissioner’s reports and investigations sanitized and neatly tucked their deaths away. My God! There were American-made tanks on the streets of Alabama and endless lynching across the South. Meanwhile, our government was trying to defend its stance, civil rights were NOT necessarily human rights. Ultimately, the world sat on its hands while the United Nations scoured the earth for human rights violations. Lady Liberty received only a wink for her mounting bloodstained atrocities.

Later, I realized our teacher failed to educate the class about the chains on the lady in the bay. Her chains disappear beneath the draperies, only to reappear in front of her left foot. Her links or the broken chains at the feet symbolize freedom and democracy.

This is a good place to pause and let that little insight marinate. America has separated families throughout its history. These families were ripped apart through the institution of slavery, welfare programs, Native American boarding schools, poverty, the great depression repatriation and Japanese internment camps.

Sadly, this is the Angelo-American way. If you look at the first explorers, settlers, and frontiers people, the truth is recorded in their own writings. The Colonizers invented ways to justify theft, murder, and rape. These practices are alive and well in today’s systemic injustice systems.

The first step in oppressing others, you convince yourself that you are superior and entitled. Secondly, the victims are always less than. Thus, the birth of the N-word. From the beginning, the N-word almost exclusively referred to the INDIGENOUS or early Native-Americans. Today, #45 refers to unwelcome immigrants as non-human, rapists, and murders.

The Smithsonian Institute bears witness with etchings, drawings and later photos of the original people found in America. The original “Illegal Immigrants” and their children have never stopped practicing what their invading ancestors began on this continent.

Through their own Crusaders-like arrogance, they have publicized enough evidence against themselves. All one has to do is look at American history. Psst! You won’t find the truth in the books that were created to teach our children. The truth has been strategically hidden or omitted. At best, you can expect a white-washed version of American crimes against humanity. Even though the crimes may be hidden from view; none the less, they are yet felt throughout generations and around the world.

July 4, 2018

Dear Lady in the Bay,

There you are. Majestic, proud and bare. You are like the sands exposed at low tide. To the world, you have become the new Empress without clothes. While you slept, our former allies and the world fashioned a reward exclusively for you.

Congratulations America! You were voted by unanimous decision to receive the Nobel Prize for the World’s Greatest and Shameless Liar.

Your chains may disappear beneath your draperies. However, your hypocrisy is” exposed” for all to see. The visions, the sounds and the nightmares of the African diaspora, your auction blocks, your camps, your mission schools, your broken treaties, your routine traffic stops haunts our everyday lives. Terrorism is American.

America doesn’t need to build a big and beautiful wall. Perhaps, a big and beautiful mirror would serve a greater purpose.