05/19/2015 03:25 pm ET Updated May 15, 2016

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

I never envisioned growing up in a society like this. I'm a 20 year old black male that hates to have to consciously go about my life. I have to consciously make decisions when I'm outside of my home, in society more than I should have. The corrupt society I live in is the culprit of this lifestyle. When I was a kid, life was all about playing with action figures, eating candy, playing with friends and not having a single thought about anything outside of that. That was the life, the only life I knew. Maybe it was so wonderful because I was naive. I was naive to what was going on around me. C'mon now, I was a kid without the mental capacity to critically evaluate life's situations the way I do now, you can respect that right? This world, this country specifically has been a source of corruption since its inception.

For hundreds of years Americans have committed wrongful and heinous acts against each other, regardless of race. But as a kid, you don't worry about those things. Besides, the history books never tell you the full story, they all glorify America and the three principles this country was said to be built on: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. For years we've went against those principles, for years we've thrown our American Constitution; our rule book, out of the window. For years we've neglected morality and made decisions based off of personal, immoral judgement. That isn't the "American Way". That's not what I was taught as a kid. It's no secret that Americans have filled younger generations of Americans with lies and half-truths so that the latter generation will keep the tradition going, without anyone really knowing what is real and true. It isn't supposed to be this way. I'm not supposed to wonder if I'll be the next to be gunned down innocently by a policeman, as over 5,000 Americans have fell victim to since 9/11, and that number is sadly rapidly increasing. Taking lives, whether innocent or not, discrimination, corruption and other acts violate those three aforementioned unalienable rights; the three things that shall not under any circumstances be taken away from us as an American, three things our government was built to protect.

Let me go back to "regardless of race". . .

Amid all of the happenings of police brutality that display innocent lives being taken, I've come to learn that though most of those events show the slaying of blacks by whites, nobody is innocent. We kill our own people, too. Some are blind to this idea though. Sure, these cases and many more reveal our country's systematic criminalization and devaluing of black and brown lives, but again, no person is innocent.

Life should not be lived consciously afraid to make one false move nor with the thought of peer perception. Life should not be dictated by another, it should not be up to any one else whether you live or die. Liberty is freedom from control and obligation. Liberty is independence. What's sad is that we celebrate an "Independence Day" for our country, yet personal independence of the people who inhibit this land matters little to none. Pursuing happiness is being neglected on a micro and macro scale. People give up on their personal dreams everyday, complain, and live a life of conformity.

I never envisioned growing up in a society like this.