July 7, 2020

Nothing to Celebrate

Maria and Julio debrief the news with ITT All-Stars Jenni Monet, an independent journalist and tribal member of the Pueblo of Laguna, and Terrell J. Starr, a senior reporter at The Root and host of the new podcast, Black Diplomats. They dive into what it means to celebrate a Fourth of July marked by the sexual assault and killing of servicemember Vanessa Guillén, a racist diatribe by President Trump at Mount Rushmore, and spikes in cases of the coronavirus across the country.

Terrell Jermaine Starr illustrated the core issue with celebrating the Fourth of July in this country. He made the connection between the devastating impact that the coronavirus is having on the Black community all the way to the origins of Black people in the United States. 

"There are people, Black folks in this neighborhood, whose parents, whose loved ones disproportionately are dying of COVID-19,” Terrell Jermaine Starr said. “I think about the fact that we're celebrating America's independence at the expense of millions of people's enslavement.”

Jenni Monet pointed out that the issue of treaties often gets lost in the retelling of Native American history. She said that while it’s important to know about the white supremacist roots of monuments like Mount Rushmore, there’s also the legal issue that is rooted in the very law of the land–the United States constitution.

"Article VI of the U.S. constitution states that treaties are the supreme law of the land,” Jenni Monet said. "They aren't these archaic paperwork that just were signed to take lands. In many ways that land was weaponized against Natives by signing those treaties." 

This episode was produced by Nour Saudi.

ITT Staff Picks:

  • In Jenni Monet's latest for Indigenously she writes about the 1980 Supreme Court decision to compensate eight different tribes of the Great Sioux Nation for the Black Hills - now the site of the Mount Rushmore monument - which was seized by Congress years ago, "Forty summers later, the Lakota still don’t want the money. They just want the land back."
  • The New York Times reports on the extent to which Black and Latinx communities have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus after suing for federal data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Fabiola Cineas writes about the legacy of the Black Lives Matter movement for Vox.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Alex Brandon

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