What Exactly Are We Celebrating this July 4th?
As I sit here on July 4, 2020 I’m not feeling it. It’s just another Saturday in my book. We could have invited our friends and family over to responsibly celebrate this day in the era of the novel Coronavirus, but why? What’s there to celebrate when not only are our black and brown people dying from COVID-19 at an alarming rate, but they are being murdered too. Marginalized, profiled, discriminated against, and treated like second class citizens simply because of the color of their skin.
I’m not an expert on black history, racial injustice or inequality. Systemic racism is something that I’m only now learning the meaning of. I never heard of Juneteenth until this year. So what could I possibly know? I know I am a woman of color with feelings that are all over the place because finally my eyes have been opened. And. This. Shit. Ain’t. Right.
How is the greatest country in the world (where people flock to capture “The American Dream”) the greatest country in the world when its own citizens suffer from so much?
I was raised by a single mom who immigrated here from Cape Verde, an island whose history is also rooted in slavery. My mom taught me to be kind, generous, honest, and hardworking. She taught me to read, and put others before myself. What she didn’t teach me was about racism. That might be perceived as a weakness or a hindrance, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. To me people are people no matter what shade their physical form comes in. What language they speak, what their features look like, or how straight their hair is.
That leads me back to today. How can we celebrate the birth of a country who gained it’s independence on this day two hundred and forty-four years ago yet black people were still enslaved?
How can we celebrate a country who separates innocent children from their parents and locks them in cages simply because they weren’t born here?
How can we celebrate a country that continues to allow the loss of black and brown lives to police brutality?
How can we celebrate a country where human trafficking and homelessness still exist?
How can we honor a country where women (especially African American and Latina) still make less than men? Where women of color feel they have to chemically alter their hair in order to be perceived as employable, professional, and “one of us”.
How the hell do we celebrate a country that allows a narcissistic, racist, homophobic demagogue who grossly sexualizes women, lies through every single orange pore, and cares about no one but himself occupy the most important seat at the table? How?