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A nation on the brink

Nancy Scheper-Hughes, anthropology professor | July 11, 2016

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”  – President Abraham Lincoln.

handsup400Our nation as at a breaking point. Race relations in America have hit rock bottom. We have work to do and it is long overdue.

Beyond undoing the damage and human rights violations committed in our prisons, jails, courtrooms, police stations, and the horrendous militarization of police weaponry, which includes deploying counter-terrorism technologies to kill civilians, we urgently need an official reckoning with the past. 

Our country needs to take three steps: First, to establish a U.S. Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission to confront the full facts and extent of the damage wrought by our ‘settler’ history, including the genocides and ethnocides against our indigenous people, the atrocity of slavery, the failure of post Civil War reconstruction leading to Jim Crow segregation, and the political-economic-cultural revolution that never happened following the civil rights movement, all of which has now spilled over into the rage and destruction across the board in our streets.

Second, we need to have a national conversation about institutional and material reparations for crimes against those who have been locked into prisons, denied justice, and defrauded of their rights at US citizens;

Third, we need to begin the hard work of reconciliation, as a nation, as professionals — doctors, educators, clerics, politicians, employers, administrators — and as individuals in face-to-face encounters. And this is only the beginning.