Question 9/12

In Everybody’s Protest Novel Baldwin explains: “Truth, as used here, is meant to imply a devotion to the human being, his freedom and fulfillment; freedom which cannot be legislated, fulfillment which cannot be chartered.” (15)

How, if at all, do you think this moment relates to our conversations about the Declaration and the Constitution? Should we view these documents as inherently problematic because they legislate freedom? Do you believe we should legislate freedom and charter fulfillment?



2 Responses to Question 9/12

  1. Alex Bordona says:

    The Declaration and Constitution are inherently problematic for a number of reasons, but I’m not sure if legislating “freedom” is one of them. I’m not even sure I’d make the argument that they do legislate freedom. About 10% of the words in the Constitution refer to slavery. The 13th amendment states that slavery is not allowed “except as a punishment for crime.” The Declaration, although it does not specifically state this, was most definitely talking about the freedom of propertied white men from English rule. They were the ones paying the most taxes, and our separation from the crown was about what they viewed as unjust taxation policies.
    I think that we should legislate freedom. I do not think white people are the ones who are capable of doing this. Because our system is dominated by white folks, I do not anticipate freedom being legislated anytime soon. If we do not legislate freedom, I do not think that it will be granted or guaranteed to all people. It is not currently guaranteed to all people, but I also don’t think we have it written in our legislation for all people. Or it is at least not interpreted that way by the courts.
    I think it is impossible to charter fulfillment. Fulfillment is entirely personal. We can have the most perfect government and most perfect laws and there will still be people who are unfulfilled. There are currently plenty of wealthy, straight white people who are unfulfilled, despite having the most rights and most privilege. I’m not even sure what “chartering fulfillment” would look like .

  2. Gilberto Rosa says:

    I do not think that Baldwin’s piece is at all reflected in this nation’ foundational texts. In fact, in order for a nation to reflect truth as in devotion to the human being would be to actually dismantle this specific country. These documents should be read as problematic because first off they are granting people freedom. First off, who has the ability to grant someone else freedom? Also, freedom is very different for everyone so how can a nation account for everyone’s personal freedom? I believe that James Baldwin’s freedom was not one that could exist in this country. And I want to live in a country in which my freedom is not legislated and is not prohibited.

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