America, the Good Nation

The United States is not a perfect country. That’s what makes it great.

Dennis Sanders
7 min readSep 27, 2021


President Ronald Reagan speaking at the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin in 1987. Public Domain photo.

It was the fall of 1983. I was a freshman in high school in Michigan. That fall I decided to try out for the cross country team. I wasn’t a great runner. I was truly, truly bad.

I was running in a cross country meet in the town of Swartz Creek, just outside of my hometown of Flint. I was bringing up the rear as usual when all of the sudden, I started to hear some young men yelling. I was running on a golf course in a neighborhood and the kids were standing in a street that ended at the golf course. As I ran, I started to realize they were talking to me and it didn’t take long to hear what they were saying to me.

They yelled the n-word at me. Then they made some comments about me liking watermelon. I was surprised, but I kept running. Someone else was listening to the taunts. A senior runner who was also African American started running swiftly in the direction of the taunting white teens. I later learned he basically stared them down until they left.

As I finished the race, several of the parents of other runners asked if I was okay and expressed anger at the audacity of the teens.

This was the first time that I was called the n-word. It wasn’t someone talking about the n-word, it was someone hurling this insult at me.

Sadly my experience nearly 40 years ago is part of America. Our history of racial intolerance is sadly as old as our nation itself. Slavery, Jim Crow, Indian Residential Schools, Internment of Japanese Americans, it’s all part of America. Sometimes we don’t want to admit that this is part of who we are, but we have to face that part of ourselves if we want to be able to love this country. To say you love America and not come to terms with our dark sides is to fall in love with a facsimile and not the nation itself. An idealized view of America is not falling in love with America.

A recent article by Charlie Sykes of the Bulwark talks about a disturbing trend among some conservatives to try to go to school board meetings and censor books that talk about problems with racism in America. They do this under the guise of trying to combat Critical Race Theory. Now, there are legitimate concerns with…



Dennis Sanders

Middle-aged Midwesterner. I write about religion, politics and culture. Podcast: newsletter: