This is America. You either never had rights or they don’t matter.

Briana L. Urena-Ravelo
4 min readFeb 23, 2017
Screenshots from a #NODAPL protest I attended on the 22nd

In these times, it is common to see eye-catching graphics from civil rights’ and advocacy groups and activist pages alike espousing the rights of undocumented citizens, protestors and activists, trans youth and people, and others being circulated.

And honestly I hardly see the point in that shit anymore.

In the past month alone, A British Muslim from a country not on the Muslim Country ban list, which was deemed religiously discriminatory, was yet blocked from traveling to the United States. (That’s breaking of a new rule that itself breaking the rules. Rule breaking-ception.) A DACA receiptient has been arrested. Protections for trans youth in schools have been removed by the Trump administration. A pipeline is being built through treaty land without an environmental impact study being completed, despite mass protests from Indigenous peoples of those lands and others across the world and their allies. (As I write this, dozens of police and military in humvees and riot gear have descended upon Standing Rock to forcibly remove the rest of the protectors.) A Latino child was harassed and threatened with a gun by an off duty cop for walking on his lawn.

These are just a handful of the most recent and viral instances of the inconsistent, unethical and unjust nature of law in the United States. This shit is chaos. It makes no ethical, judicial or legal sense. Humans with inalienable rights because they are humans-not because the spiritually lacking, molasses-paced and corrupt measure of the United States grants them those rights-who are following the law or, specifically because of shitty laws or politicians, are being treated unjustly.

The only rhyme or reason to it, the only cogency and consistency, is whiteness, which, at this point I feel I must add an aside to mention-I’m (not) sorry if you feel me using that word over and over weakens its power or usefulness. The sky is still blue even if every child between the ages of 2–4 in America is currently learning that fact and calling the sky that color millions upon millions of times. Repetition does not make a fact less salient. It should instead, hopefully, make it stick. And if it doesn’t, whiteness is then going to be allowed to determine rhyme and reason. The sky will instead be called red and anyone challenging that the biggest threat to America, a cuck, a paid protestor.

Back to it: Knowing your rights is not totally unimportant or insignificant. But how can we truly help educate and empower people about their rights if we don’t acknowledge how, depending on the person, few those rights might be, or how in many instances those rights don’t actually matter when others are more than OK with and empowered to violate them? What does it mean in a country to have rights when the law, created by and for white men, is violent, and when the violence of white men can easily rise above the law because they designed it to serve themselves in that manner?

Time and time again we have seen the worst abuses occurs both by the letter of the law and by those who don’t actually give a shit what the “rules” are and have the privilege and power to make that executive decision to override them. “This is America, we are citizens, we have rights!” eventually ceases being plucky, enthusiastic naivety and instead becomes a dangerous investment in bullshit. And yet here so many of us still are, being upset at the violence and mistreatment because gosh darn it, This Is America, and We Have Rights.

How much longer are going to delude ourselves into believing that? How much longer will we refer to what is happening in America as wrongs that the law will quickly fix or solely being the beast of the new president and his cronies’ machinations and not the direct, intentional imagining of the very blood-thirsty, slave-owning, Indian killing founders of this nation, thus meticulously kept and maintained by each and every president, including Obama, since them? Hell, how much longer are we going to say that right and wrong is determined by the state, AKA those who have never been a good measure for that shit in the first place?

The more we pretend this problem is just that of occasional unsightly aberrations in an otherwise goodly and dependable system, the further we become unable to question what the fuck is actually happening right before our very fucking eyes on fucking purpose.



Briana L. Urena-Ravelo

Writer. Community organizer. Errant punk. Ne’er do well. Fire starter. Email: