Editor's Note

Read and reflect on “Let America Be America Again” by Langston Hughes

A strident reminder of our country’s long argument with itself, this poem hits home after a day that began with Cory Booker’s presidential announcement and ended with Ralph Northam’s apology. His surely upcoming resignation may gratify our anger and disbelief, but we must not pretend it solves anything. Structural racism still plagues our country, a birth wound that never heals because we pretend all that blood, the scraped flesh and unrelenting pain is normal, inevitable, acceptable.

I was shocked when I moved to Virginia and learned that the rebel flag flew over a local city hall until the mid-1990s. Learning how segregation affected every part of life here from the schools to the churches during my own lifetime made me realize that it’s horrid legacy still lives. It compelled me to dedicate time to introspection, education and action.

I’ve always admired Langston Highly and his work inspired me to write poetry. His poems sing with clarity through their imagery, but they are not enough. Words can point us toward our shared dreams, but only hard work will lead us through the darkness to that great, shining land of liberty and justice for all.


Freedom, Fridays and Firing Your Boss

English: The Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, 2006.
Liberty Bell, Philadelphia Image via Wikipedia
Freedom bells are ringing today, and not just because it’s the end of the normal work week.

This Sunday is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. This Wednesday was the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese woman sold into slavery, brought to Italy and eventually freed by the Italian courts when she refused to leave the convent where her owners had left her during their trip overseas. Unfortunately, slavery still exists but organizations like CAST (Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking) and CIW (Coalition of Immokalee Workers) are winning the battle, person by person and company by company. Today Trader Joe’s joined the Fair Food Program, which improves the working conditions and protects the human rights of workers who put food on our tables by picking it from the fields. One small step for a popular grocery store, one big step towards a more just world.

One small change in a proposed HHS mandate was also a big victory for religious liberty. The First Amendment enshrines a founding principle of our country: that government cannot tell us what to believe or how to live according to those beliefs. I’m not sure whether it was the 200,000 letters and signatures, or all the mainstream editorials that ran heavily against the mandate, but today the mandate was adjusted in favor of religiously affiliated organizations.

And on a more personal level, freedom reigns in my home again. Earlier this week, my husband fired his boss. Walking away from an abusive relationship is hard and leaving a paycheck behind is scary, but he has courageously done both these things because he knows his rights and values his dignity. Ultimately, that’s what the Fair Food Program and religious liberty are also all about.

It’s been quite a week, so raise your glass and celebrate. Ring some bells while you’re at it!