This Is America. This Is Who We Are.

In the U.S., politicians, pundits, and the public have a verb problem: using “is,” a false claim that masks ugly truths, when “should” expresses an aspiration worth embracing.

There are millions of examples, but former vice president Joe Biden’s comments about Trump’s seeking to end DACA serves as a representative example:

“These people are all Americans. So let’s be clear: throwing them out is cruel. It is inhumane. And it is not America,” [Biden] added. “Congress and the American people now have an obligation to step up and show our neighbors that they’re welcome here, in the only place they’ve ever called home.”

Mantras that the U.S. is a land of opportunity, that ZIP code is not destiny—these are ideological lies that would be better expressed as the U.S. should be a land of opportunity, that ZIP code should not be destiny.

The U.S. was founded in war, but freedom, equity, and justice for all did not spring forth from the blood-soaked soil of that revolution.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness applied only to white males—black slaves were not human and then only 3/5ths human, women had rights only indirectly by association with men, and children were nearly invisible as full humans.

Since 1776, in fact, the slow march toward freedom, equity, and justice for all has been a fight, not some benevolent gift by those who had all those from the beginning.

It is 2017, and partisan politics continues to ignore freedom, equity, and justice for all because the Trump administration seeks to erase former president Obama from the record—simply as crass partisan politics not so subtly awash in racism: efforts to end ACA, the so-called Obamacare, and now announcements that DACA will be suspended.

The list is long, ugly, and ongoing that despite what many, including Biden, claim this is America; this is who we are:

Now, in the U.S., millions of dollars, a Reagan hairdo, a suit that costs more than many people make in weeks, and simply being white, male, and somewhat articulate all allow you to lie with a smile, an apparently a clear conscience:

This is America. This is who we are.

But to be black is another reality all together:

This is America. This is who we are.