"...At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and could I reach the nation's ear, I would, to day, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced".- Frederick Douglas
On July 4th, 1852, Frederick Douglas gave this speech, titled "What to the American Slave Is Your 4th of July", in Rochester, New York. I had the opportunity to listen to this speech for the first time last week on the 4th of July. Today, uncertain of what I wanted to say in this blog post, uncertain of how I would answer such a loaded question (How will your research (now and/or in the future) contribute to freedom, justice, and equality in the U.S.?), I thought of this speech.
I sat down, and I listened to it more than 3 times. As I listened, a chill ran through me, my heart began to beat quickly, and I felt teary-eyed and emotional. How could a speech from 1852 resonate so well with the America of today? How could a 163 year old speech wonderfully describe the grossly unequal, whether socially or environmentally, climate of our beloved America today? How is it that such a speech can still adequately encompass the separateness and exclusivity upheld by our country? Perhaps it is because we have fooled ourselves in thinking that we've come so far. We are no longer separate, but equal. Our current president is black. Women are holding position in high ranks. Climate change is now part of the country's discussion. People can choose to marry who they please, man or woman. And yet still, the rich get richer while the poor get poorer, minorities ( women, ethnic/racial minorities, LGBTQ) are still fighting to be heard and be thought of as equals as our generation continues to beg the previous generation, whom currently hold power, to take seriously the effect of climate change and global warming in both our lives and the lives of our children.
So how will my research contribute to freedom, justice, and equality in the US? I don't know. I can only hope that my research is one that is inclusive and relate-able to and for all. Perhaps, through my work, I can take on Douglas' voice and indeed reach the nation's ear in order to point out the hypocrisy and inequality of our beloved America. In doing so, I hope I can produce work/research that actively contributes to truly moving this country forward.