Summary Of Our Declaration By Danielle Allen

1675 Words7 Pages

Danielle Allen’s Our Declaration is a rereading of the Declaration of Independence in an effort to take ownership of this crucial document for herself and the Black community. Due to her predetermined mission of reinterpreting the document in an empowering manner, established through her transformational experience teaching the Declaration to her college classes, her chapters tend to fall to the wayside of overenthusiastic optimism rather than clarifications of how the authors or the document itself pertains to minorities and targeted communities of the United States of America. The focus of Allen’s novel lies in her beseeching the reader to recognize equality as a core facet of the Declaration, a component that is inseparable from freedom …show more content…

To exemplify this essential skill, Allen utilizes the phrase, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” and determines through the critical analysis of key sentences like this, that the readers will not only “understand the Declaration better but also… understand every politician better” (150). Allen asserts that this “sound bite” alludes to the Declaration's consideration of the entirety of the United States in the authors’ appeal for freedom and equality. Furthermore, Allen insinuates that this should be an obvious synopsis since “the signers of the Declaration had confidence in their readers” (150). While Allen reads between the lines of the Declaration with the optimism that maybe the authors had the best intentions for the futures of the Black community and women as well as White men, others may choose to read between the lines that thirty-four out of forty-seven of the signers of the Declaration owned slaves. Furthermore, in a modern context, this confidence that Allen believes the authors of the Declaration have for their readers is poorly placed. In light of the duality of our politicians, the falsities in even their smallest phrases, and their misuse of monumental documents like the Declaration, the authors may have had faith in their readers, but we, the …show more content…

However, the overwhelming realities of the Black American experience disallow any optimism to truly shine. Not only does Sinha discuss the lack of a specific definition of what it means to be an American citizen in the Declaration, but also that it allowed for a sense of White nationalism to take place due to the absence of the Black community being mentioned. Seventeen years after the Revolutionary War ended, the 1790 Naturalization Act was passed to only allow White immigrants into the US (Sinha, 1). Shortly after, a slew of laws were passed aiming to disenfranchise Black people and support the view that Black people were property rather than citizens with legislature like the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 (Sinha, 1). The Declaration of Independence is a document that to Allen fights for equality and freedom, with the potential to answer the question of who is a citizen and finally include those unmentioned in the document itself. To authors like Sinha, the Declaration instead begs another question, why wasn’t this addressed in the original document to begin with? Why was the definition of a citizen of the United States of America not clearly stated in the Declaration of Independence, a declaration of new citizenship to a nation that would more fairly treat the “citizens” the authors

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