Photo ©Larry Fink

Photo ©Larry Fink
(Click above photo for Larry's website)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Part II

"I tremble for my country."

-Thomas Jefferson


"America became a country that was a nation because it had made a covenant with itself...The promises...were so great that their betrayal was part of the promise. The betrayal of that ideal became the national drama, the engine of American history—the discovery that the promises one had been made were false, the attempt to make them true, battles over slavery and suffrage, property and speech, for all time. As it was inevitable that the promises the nation had made would be betrayed, it was inevitable that America would produce prophetic figures of its own."

-Greil Marcus, The Shape of Things to Come, pg. 11


The contradiction embodied in the contrast between promise and betrayal is the true reality of the American Dream. The goal of the American national narrative is to render this contradiction unproblematic. Harnessed as a tool by the power structure, the national narrative is used to enforce standards of conduct and patterns of behavior beneficial to the status quo. However, the national narrative can never be totally controlled by any one party or group of individuals. Ultimately, it is a mirror, which shows the true conditions of the country. The reflection of race reveals a deep gulf between the reality of American life and the rhetoric of the American Dream.

We see here faces of intolerance and struggle. Despite their difference both are grounded in some form of vision of an ideal America. The meeting of these two forces produces an uneasy mixture, a beginning born in violence, where the stakes are the form of the Dream and the question of who will have the ability to add their voice to it.

-M.C. Newton & Dani Bogenhagen

Coretta Scott King

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