It is a confusing and frustrating time to be an American. And being an American youth is the most confusing role of all. In the four years of the 45th president’s term, our democracy was gradually taken from us even as the thieves absconding with it called themselves “patriots.” A patriot does not seek to undermine their country’s Constitution.
This all came to a head when number forty-five directed his followers to storm the Capitol. They compared themselves to our founders.
Our founders built our government. Forty-five and his minions sought to demolish it.
The people who stormed the Capitol are traitors, trying to upend a democratic election. What really motivated these people, and all the people who support number forty-five?
The answer is hate. Number forty-five promoted hate from the moment he took office. It’s like when Voldemort took over in Harry Potter.
But this vile man did not invent greed and hate. These things have festered in America since it was founded. Number forty-five made it safe for too many of our citizens to reveal themselves in a way that shocks us—but it should not surprise us.
Our country was flawed from the start. We stole land from indigenous Americans and slaughtered them. We kidnapped human beings from Africa and enslaved them. We denied women the right to vote.
Thomas Jefferson, primary author of The Declaration of Independence, enslaved over 600 human beings during his life—some his own children.
We have continually dehumanized and tortured people. Look at George Floyd. Look at the children in cages at our borders. Hate has been continually cooked on the stove of American culture. Every time it has come to a boil, we’ve lowered the heat, but we have not extinguished the flame. What will we do this time?
There is no stolen election. That lie that was propagated by a narcissistic leader who could not admit his own defeat. Now we have a new leader, but the country is torn apart. It will take much work to mend what’s broken—not just stick a bandage over it.
Study history so you can learn about humanity—flaws and all. Be aware of what came before so that you can positively impact what comes next.
The power to banish hate in America rests in your hearts and hands. Love trumps hate.
Selene Castrovilla is an award-winning, acclaimed author of five books on the American Revolution for young readers, including The Founding Mothers of the United States (Scholastic) and Revolutionary Friends: General George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette (Calkins Creek Books). Her upcoming books include The Civil Rights Movement: 1960 (Scholastic, 2021), Seeking Freedom: The Untold Story of Fortress Monroe and the End of Slavery in America, illustrated by E. B. Lewis (Calkins Creek Books, 2022) and Boy Meets Groove: Savion Glover Finds His Funk, illustrated by Laura Freeman (Holiday House, 2022). Selene has been a meticulous researcher of American history since 2003. A frequent speaker about our nation's evolution, she is equally comfortable with audiences of children and adults. Please visit: selenecastrovilla.com.
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