“Liberty and justice for some,” Christian pastor and writer Mark Charles — who also comes from Navajo descent — said to a crowd in Cox Auditorium on Wednesday Sept. 21. That was the theme of Charles’ lecture, which highlighted the ways in which America had and has supported inequality.
Charles opened his lecture by asking the audience to stand for a moment of silence for the two men who had been shot by police within the past 36 hours. He also asked the audience to partake in silence for the land that audience members were currently standing on, adding that it did not belong to them, but to Choctaw, Chickasaw and Cherokee natives.
Charles explained how American history is rooted in documents that are systemically racist. One example, Charles said, was the Doctrine of Discovery, which refers to native people as being worth less than the people who had “discovered” the land.
“The Constitution was literally written to protect the rights of white, land-owning men and that is it,” Charles said.
Charles described how our own president has quoted this “systemically racist” document, which he says refers to black people as fractions of a person.
Not only do these documents contain racist implications, but the mere fact that our Supreme Court enforced these laws (then and now) makes the Supreme Court racist, Charles said.
“Our nation teaches mythology, not history.”
Charles added that, as a nation, we have succeeded at putting a fabricated idea of American history into our textbooks and we fail to enhance just how much our past is based on colonial genocide and ethnic cleansing.
He also brought up today’s politics.
In reference to Donald Trump believes, Charles said Trump supports “We the People except Muslims, immigrants, women and based on all the land Trump has bought and sold, not Native people.” According to Charles, we are a free country, but all people are not free.
Charles emphasizes that we cannot “Make America Great Again” if it has not ever been great.
“We have two candidates running for president. One that is explicitly racist, Trump. Yet the other is implicitly racist, Hillary,” Charles said.
Hillary is running on the idea that America has always been great when, in fact, our history runs deep into racist values and in fact has not ever been ‘great,’ added Charles.
Charles would like to start a commission within government called the “Truth and Conciliation Commission” which would attempt to tackle the heart of America’s problems by facing the systemic racism in our earliest documents head on.
Mark Charles currently lives with his family in Washington D.C. and continues to press onward in supporting indigenous rights and speaking at events to discuss what our nation does not talk about.
Edited by Nathan Odom and Kaitlin Flippo
Featured image by Kelly Fallon