A lullaby to put America's national shame to rest
This song was born out of heartache and hope for America. It was written on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, and released on MLK Day. The day he was assassinated, Dr. King had reportedly spent some time working on what was to be his Sunday sermon that week. The subject was an examination of why he believed America may go to hell. While no one got to hear that sermon, earlier speeches and writings had already made his premise clear: A nation that refuses to repent of its injustices, but rather boasts of its greatness, standing before God with hubris and vanity, is a nation that cannot stand forever.
For whom has America been great? This nation was never designed to be great for people of non-European descent. Two years ago, when President Trump complained about the large number of immigrants from what he called “shithole countries,” and lamented that more immigrants weren’t coming from European nations, he wasn’t being un-American. His feelings were consistent with America’s founders and settlers, and their vision for this land. 170 years prior (almost to the day), Senator John C. Calhoun affirmed in a speech to the United States Congress that “we have never dreamt of incorporating into our Union any but the Caucasian race - the free white race.” This was to be a white nation. Manifest Destiny was a rallying cry for white expansion and supremacy. Racism is anything but un-American. It is our foundation.
We believe it is critically important for the United States to be honest about this reality. To call racism un-American is to lie to ourselves and to thereby refuse to examine the inherently racist foundations upon which all of our governmental, economic and educational systems have been built. Without that honest examination there is no hope of rebuilding this country on a new foundation of justice. If we just talk about our greatness, we ignore the horrors from which we have never meaningfully repented, the injustices we have never overcome, the wrongs we have never sought to make right. If we live in that lie and continue to build upon it, we will only do more harm. If we are going to bully the world as we widen our own divide between wealth and poverty, cultivate and champion racial hatred, and treat the earth like it’s ours to conquer and exploit, we are perpetuating a vision for America whose time has long since come to an end, a vision fatally flawed from its inception. That vision, that America, must be put to rest. This song is its lullaby.