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  • Louis Venters

"Bind Ye the Broken with the Hands of Justice"

Contemporary American states with primary administrative divisions

A couple of weeks ago at an interesting forum hosted by the SC Human Affairs Commission and the SC Collaborative for Race and Reconciliation, seated next to the Vice-Chair of the Waccamaw Indian People, an African American state legislator, and an advocate for children and families originally from nuestro querido Honduras, I made a brief closing statement to the effect that sooner or later all the Americas would be like one big country, and going between them would be as easy as going from North Carolina to South Carolina in the United States. People with the best interests of their countries at heart, I said, should always have that goal in mind and work backwards from there.

Since then I've kept thinking more about what the U.S. media are calling a "migrant crisis" at the border with Mexico, and about the artificial borders that divide us. Here's a rough draft of a fuller statement of what I see, based on my study as a historian of the U.S. and the African diaspora, my reflections on Indigenous and Black revolutionary ideas, and my understanding of the Baha'i vision of the world's future political-economy:

Some day, all the peoples of the Americas, from Alaska to the Magallanes, will be members of one great commonwealth.

The descendants of the colonizers will give up their claims to warped and childish ideas of power, while the descendants of the enslaved and of the continent's indigenous peoples will flourish in every way.

We will all enjoy vibrant, participatory, democratic governance at all levels. We will share in new economies that promote the prosperity and well-being of all. We will live in harmony with the natural environment and be deeply attached to the beauties of our continent. We will be free to travel and work and live where we please. We will know all of our history. We will embrace all of our diversity. We will heal ourselves and each other of the long centuries of trauma that we have suffered and live together in peace and dignity and justice.

Maybe, like those noble Black revolutionaries two hundred years ago who restored the original name of "Hayiti" to the island that the Spanish had called "Little Spain," we may even retire the colonizers' misnomer "America" in favor of something more fitting. Something Mexica, or Quechua, or Dine, or Lakota, or Taino. Or perhaps some new word that hasn't yet been invented.

This can all happen soon, or it can happen sooner. It can be hard, or we can make it less hard.

But make no mistake: Ultimately, history is only running in one direction. Humanity is one organism sharing one planet, and the sooner we start to act like it, the better.

We, the peoples of the Americas, where all the great branches of the human family found themselves thrown together so violently starting five centuries ago, should perhaps know better than most that there is nowhere else for us to go.

Western Hemisphere at night. With thanks to the Lowell Observatory.

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