Yes, America, is mine

Voters use electronic polling machines as they cast their votes early at the Franklin County Board of Elections, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. (John Minchillo/AP Photo)

Voters use electronic polling machines as they cast their votes early at the Franklin County Board of Elections, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. (John Minchillo/AP Photo)

As thousands of migrants walk to America to escape the violence in Central America, I’m disappointed that a president who is the son of an immigrant cannot see himself in those people.

But I’m not surprised. After all, Trump told us from the very beginning that he saw Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists.

What does surprise me is the rhetoric from some of my “woke” brothers and sisters. Given that they present themselves as black folks who understand what’s really going on beneath the surface, it shocks me to hear them say that the immigration argument is not mine to have, because America is not my country.

Well, if being “woke” means adopting the mindset that I am not American, then count me out, because America is mine as much as it is anyone else’s. In fact, my claim is more legitimate than most.

I come from the people who stuck their hands into the red clay of Georgia and brought forth the goldmine that was cotton. I come from the people who tilled the soil of North Carolina and made a mint from a leaf called tobacco. I come from a people who farmed the land of South Carolina until the fields exploded with produce. From Florida to Virginia, from Maryland to Delaware, my ancestors worked for little more than stripes on their back and pain in their eyes.

So yes, America is mine.

I come from the people who helped to design Washington D.C. and built it without getting paid. I come from the people who invented Southern delicacies from the scraps of the slaveholders table. I come from the people who made Negro spirituals into escape songs, and made rhythm to go with our blues, and made Hip Hop when they took our instruments and who never forgot our drums. American pop culture is based in our music.

So yes, America is mine.

I come from the people who made the air conditioning you turn up to high. From the people who designed the traffic lights you speed through. From the doctor who discovered blood plasma and died on the hospital steps. I come from the immortal cells of Henrietta Lacks. From the wrong side of the tracks. From whip scars on our backs.

So yes, America is mine.

Every dollar I make is for the ones who never made a penny. Every breath I take is for the ones whose breath was cut short. Every ladder I climb is for the ones who had the rug pulled from under them. And on Tuesday, when I walk into the voting booth with my black head held high, and put my black finger on that button, and cast a vote in my black interests, it will be for Emmitt Till and Trayvon Martin, Rekia Boyd and Sandra Bland, for Martin King and for Malcolm X and for everyone else who lost their lives in the struggle for black equality.

I come from the people who built this country.

So yes, America, is mine.

Listen to Solomon Jones weekdays at 10 a.m. on Praise 107.9 FM

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