“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
-Preamble to the United States Constitution, 1787
“We the People” is an iconic American phrase that simultaneously spurs patriotism and pain for those whom it has expatriated since the moment of its drafting by the Framers and Founding Fathers in 1787. Each individual phrase, purposefully politically charged with hope-filled rhetoric for a newly established and accepted nation, has been
contradicted by the actions of its citizens in many events throughout its over 200 year history.
The hope for a “more perfect Union” injured by segregation and Jim Crow laws desperate to divide its citizens based on stereotypes and prejudice of skin color. The birth of this ideology stemming from the Trans-Atlantic slave trade in an attempt to justify the enslavement of an entire group of peoples.
The desire to “establish Justice” constrained by the chains of slavery born long before even the nation’s establishment and perpetuated through mass incarceration and the genocide of police brutality.
The aspiration to “insure domestic Tranquility” trampled by the race riots of Red Summer 1919 and alt-right marches at Confederate monuments in 2017 coupled with years of lynchings throughout the entire nation.
The ambition to “promote general Welfare” evicted by gentrification in historically black communities and the separation of families through the national prison system.
All of these historical events threaten the right of all American citizens to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” We the People (?): A Recapitulation of the Reincarnations of Institutional Racism is a summary of institutional racism in the United States and the new ways in which it is enforced throughout each era. By looking at each event and its historical reincarnation, we can work toward achieving the true form of the Preamble that includes every citizen in the United States of America.