This I Believe

Lashanette - Spokane, Washington
Entered on November 8, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

Freedom Is Worth Fighting For

When you look up the word freedom in the dictionary, it has at least five different definitions of the same meaning. The definition for freedom that I take and run with is Independence. Freedom means independence, which is not requiring or relying on something else or somebody else. What if you don’t have the ability or strength to repel? After a while most people will find the strength to become a freedom fighter. A freedom fighter is a person who takes part in a resistance movement against an oppressive political or social establishment. If I had to live each day working for someone who doesn’t care if I lived today or the next day, I would put up a fight, even if it meant sacrificing my own life.

In my family wasting food is a really big deal. Well, it’s pretty much a sin from what I know. My parents took it very seriously. When I was younger I would find all kinds of ways to throw my food away when I didn’t want to eat what was being served. If I was ever caught throwing my food away by my father, I would end up washing every dish in the house, including the ones that were already clean. Now my mother is a different story; the only thing she would say to me is “Kids in Africa are starving”. I didn’t understand what she meant by that. Well, I understood I just didn’t understand why she was telling me something like that. I questioned myself. What did the kids in Africa that are starving have to do with me? What am I supposed to do about it? Why should I care? Watching television I always came across a few channels where the media is talking about poverty, violence, or either A.I.D.S. in Africa. I became more interested in what Africa was really like. What was a typical day like for a girl my age?

At first, I didn’t know where to begin my study of Africa. One day I came home and my Uncle was talking about a man named Nelson Mandela. Now, I had never heard of the name Nelson Mandela but I figured it could be from another country considering I didn’t know anyone in the States with the name. I went to ask my Uncle “who is Nelson Mandela?”. He responded “The President of South Africa”. In my head I am thinking is Nelson Mandela black or white, because I have never heard of a black president before in my life. Well, not in the States anyway. Most African Americans around me believed the closest to a black president we were going to get would be President Clinton. But I figured if South Africa can have a black president, then so could we. So that is when I started studying the life of Nelson Mandela. His fight, the struggle, the sacrifices, and all the blood that was shed just to be equal to others in South Africa, a country he’s called home all his life.

My senior year in high school, I started studying the Apartheid Laws in South Africa. Apartheid means a rigid policy of segregation of the non- white population. The South African Government’s aim of the apartheid was to maintain white domination while extending racial separation. I dug really deep into the law system in South Africa. All I really wanted to know was why? Why can’t blacks have the opportunity to learn how to read and write? Why can’t blacks go to the park without a white person? Why do the people of South Africa have to classify themselves as being Black, White or Indian? It all just didn’t make since to me. Then I remembered in the United States we had the same similar problems; not being able to ride in the front of the bus, not being able to go to school with whites, having a different drinking fountain then whites. I asked myself; what did we do to have equal rights in America? And I came up with an answer….we fought back! There was a time back in Little Rock, Arkansas in the 1950’s where nine black high school students first entered an all white high school. They had to deal some of the things I wouldn’t see myself dealing with in a million years; being spit on, acid being thrown, urine being thrown, hair being pulled.etc. Now if it would have been me entering an all white high school back then, I wouldn’t have lasted two minutes. The nine students of Little Rock, Arkansas went through the whole year being tormented because they wanted the same privileges as whites. Why should black kids be treated any different? They wanted an education just as well. Because of the fact that the nine students dealt with so many painful obstacles, they were able to attend the best school in Little Rock, regardless of what the government wanted. Dealing with painful things like that showed people they aren’t any different. If you don’t give me the opportunity to show you, then I will take the opportunity to show you.

Learning the life of Nelson Mandela, and researching the way of life in South Africa showed me the importance of freedom. I believe freedom is something we all should have the chance to experience no matter what color you are. It may give you a black eye, a busted lip, and maybe a little spit but in the end it will all be worth it. I believe freedom is worth fighting for regardless the circumstances.