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Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

The Soul of a Nation

The Soul of a Nation

Aya Fubara Eneli, M.A., J.D. AYA ENELI

I am a writer. I love writing and I am rarely at a loss for words, but after the execution of an African American man named Alton Sterling by two Baton Rouge Police officers, I sat at my desk to write my column and I had no words. What I did have were scalding tears running down my face as I struggled to catch my breath. Please God let me awaken from this nightmare. How do we as a nation justify these actions by tax-funded officers who are sworn to serve and protect? Why are these actions so prevalent against African Americans? What is it about our nation and our culture that allows racism and such evil to thrive? What lies within the soul of this nation, America?
Before you disregard my column with any number of excuses, our history is incontrovertible on this issue. The United States of America has dehumanized and mistreated people of African descent before its inception and ever since. From legal enslavement to Black Codes and Jim Crowism to legally designating Black people as only three-fifths of a person to the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision that concluded “a Black man has no rights a white person has to respect” to “Separate but Equal” laws to the denial of any reparations to former slaves to discriminatory practices that continue to favor the status quo. America has hardly ever shown its “godly characteristics” when it comes to African Americans.
Have you ever played Monopoly? You may recall that at the start of every game, all players are given equal amounts of money and the rules of the game are clear for all to know and follow. Well, when it comes to the descendants of enslaved Africans in this country, after the Emancipation Proclamation which many didn’t even realize had freed them until months later, they essentially found themselves uneducated and in debt and further economically depressed. What do you do when you fall on a Railroad but you can’t afford to buy it? What do you do when you fall on Park Place and someone else with means already owns it and perhaps 2 or more houses on it? Yes, you fall into a hole so deep that you have to quit the game.
But alas this is real life and not a make-belief game like Monopoly. You don’t get to quit till you die. You just keep striving, trying to figure out a way to survive and just maybe thrive. And that has been the plight and history of African Americans. Denied their 40 acres and a mule, killed for learning to read and write, eventually relegated to inferior schools and housing, shut out of countless opportunities, but like dust we have risen. Today, there are educated African Americans in just about every walk of life, BUT the psychology of greed and white supremacy that allowed slavery to thrive and even resulted in a Civil War has yet to be snuffed out in our society. There are still a plethora of boards and organization making decisions impacting African Americans with no representation from the group.
Our very education ensures that we learn primarily about the contributions and accomplishments of Americans of European descent, but hardly of any other group. Through our textbooks and the very process by which we choose who to highlight and honor, the inferiority of Black people is subtly but firmly ingrained in the minds of all people. We permeate myths of lawlessness while intentionally choosing to criminalize certain acts and not others. Just consider the disparity in sentencing between those convicted of crack versus cocaine possession. The statistics prove beyond a doubt that White Americans are more likely to use cocaine and crack is more common amongst African Americans.
The United States of America, Home of the Brave and Land of the Free, has the highest incarceration rates of any nation in the world, including the communist nations. We have 5% of the world’s population and house 25% of all prisoners worldwide. Why is that? Is it because our prison system has morphed into highly profitable commercial enterprises? Is this a legal replacement of the institution of slavery which guaranteed free labor upon which many of the corporations and institutions of our nation were built?
The criminalization of African Americans and the brutal, frequent, evil, legally sanctioned killings of African Americans by law enforcement officers will only cease when ALL Americans regardless of race, choose to unbury our heads and to acknowledge our racist past and how people continue to benefit from it. When we all start to challenge our own biases, acknowledge our own privileges and exercise our power to change laws that disenfranchise and disempower others, when we hold thugs in uniforms accountable for their actions these racist killings will stop and we will also see a reduction on so-called “Black on Black violence”.
You and I by our daily thoughts and actions have the power to finally live up to the lofty ideals on which this nation was supposedly built – we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (and women) are created equal. And if we don’t, we should know that chickens always come home to roost and the evil we do is the evil we ultimately will reap. Time will tell the true soul of our nation.
Aya Fubara Eneli is a best-selling author, Christian Life Coach, Motivational Speaker on leadership, business growth and parenting and an Attorney. For more information, visit, follow her on twitter @ayaeneli or e-mail her at


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