A couple weeks back Senator Cory Booker appeared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert to talk about George Floyd and the protests and the reaction. It’s an incredible interview and I encourage you to watch it.
The whole interview is about half an hour, but there’s about a 15-minute chunk that gets away from the current politics and focuses on racism and this moment in America that is just powerful stuff.
Booker and Colbert have been discussing the protests in Washington D.C. and how President Donald Trump cleared out Lafayette Park for a photo opp, and Colbert asks what it’s like in D.C. right now and if this is a harbinger of things to come. Booker launches into a very personal and emotional response that is worth your time:
Isabel is a slave girl during the American Revolution in Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson, desperately searching for the freedom the rebels are fighting for. But neither the Americans nor the British are willing to grant freedom to a black slave.
It’s an eye-opening perspective on the complications of our Independence.
It reminds me of The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing series, especially the second volume when war has broken out and Octavian joins the Brit’s Ethiopian Regiment for the promise of freedom. But Chains is much more direct and approachable. The Octavian Nothing series takes too long to get anywhere.
The American experiment in freedom and democracy is complicated when you realize how wrapped up it is in slavery. The fight for freedom wasn’t limited to the Revolutionary War. It would be nearly a century before blacks in America could taste freedom, and another century before they could truly practice it as equals.
There’s a contradiction at the heart of our nation’s founding that we’re reluctant to face. But it’s there. And 238 years later it still leaves a mark on our culture.
We depend on one another. We depend on our armed forces to keep us safe. We depend on family and friends for love, sanity and good times. We depend on employers and clients and customers for our paychecks and livelihood.
The loner is the great American archetype. Personal freedom, personal responsibility, personal choice seems to be our national mantra. It’s so often about me, myself and I. The consumerism that drives our capitalism is all about self.
But independence was only achieved by depending on one another. Freedom is not about selfish gain but what we can have and achieve together. Right now Iranians are flexing their democratic muscle by relying on one another. No man is an island.