The not so sparkly truth behind Independence Day 2020
I gazed up at the inky sky for almost 30 minutes before the first sign of light rocketed into my line of sight. It looked like a meteor going the wrong direction, then it paused for a moment at the peak of its hight reach, the glow fading only for a moment before it explodes sending sparks in a sphere around their origin point. Soon there was more cannon sounds as three more fireworks shot up, exploding into the colors red white a blue. Any year prior to this one I would have been dazzled by the show of sparkles in the sky. But in this year, 2020, after watching our country almost launch itself into nuclear war, fail to protect its people from a devastating pandemic, and prove more than ever that it is a racist police state... my patriotism was a little jaded.
On July 4th in 1776, America gained its freedom with the Declaration of Independence, severing the American Colonies ties with Britain. But in a year like 2020, many have began to investigate how much actual freedom we have.
This Holliday is celebrated year after year here in the U.S. with the colors of our flag being worn on many items of clothing and being mass produced onto products for marketing purposes. With expensive fireworks, and lots and lots of food. This year, I decided to purposefully not wear any combination of red, white, or blue. I didn't eat any good ol' American hot dogs, and I didn't celebrate our countries "independence". Some would call this anti-nationalism, a disgrace to what our relatives fought for. But the truth is, there is nothing to celebrate when the only people who gained freedom in this country are White Americans.
The country that had just been fought to have control of in the late 1700s, neglected to share any of the power with the Natives to this land whom were forced into Reservations that would be forsaken by the new government and damned to struggle with poverty, violence against their women and children, not to mention poor housing, health care, education, and much much more. Not only this, but the country was built on the backs of slaves that were stolen from their home countries by none other than white people. And The Emancipation Proclamation that was supposed to give them human rights wasn't passed until 87 years (yes almost a century) after America gained its independence.
Of course though, new whites remained in power and found a loophole to hide their racist motives by enforcing the Jim Crow laws in 1877 that ruled Black people could not mix with Whites, effectively furthering the establishment of the idealism that they are less due to their skin color. This deeply rooted belief grew and grew, finding more ways to suppress the Black communities of America. For example the creation of the prison system in 1891 which, to this day is unfairly geared towards incarceration and forced labor of minorities, mainly Blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans.
The racism that this country was brought up on has been able to go under the radar for many years for those who are not effected by it, AKA privileged white people. I myself will not fail to admit that I grew up without the understanding of my privilege and how it oppressed those who were not favored by the system. But I have made an effort to leave my position of privilege and try to see what it is that the minorities that make up America go through, though I will never be able to understand it to the extent they have been forced to.
This year has removed the rose colored glasses that I have had the advantage of wearing for so many years without my knowledge. I have seen the detrimental flaws in the system that need to be acknowledged and fixed. Self entitled leaders who believe that a good economy is more important than over half a million American lives (numbers still rising) that were claimed by the pandemic virus they chose to neglect while other countries were flattening the curve. I've seen how the people who are supposed to protect our society are only products of racist mindsets and lack of training. They are not the superheroes I was made to believe, they are far from it. I see how innocent children and people coninue to be killed in their schools and churches by powerful guns that are not regulated if you have white skin. But how if you are black and they police decide they want you dead they will make it happen without consequence. With each new day I hear the stories of another unjustified murder like those of Elijah McClain, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and immigrant children in ICE being murdered, raped, and sold with every passing minute.
I see these travesties and I wonder how the document that founded this nation can claim that "People have certain Inalienable Rights including Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness", that "All Men are created equal", and that "Individuals have a civic duty to defend these rights for themselves and others". Can you truthfully and whole heartedly say that every American has these rights?
So while watching the celebratory fireworks go off in the sky on this hot July night, instead of thinking about my pride to be in a "free" country, I think of the names of these victims who didn't live to see another 4th of July. Or another holiday in general. How the children in ICE cages will very well never see their mother or father again. I watch these glittering bursts decorate the sky, and think about how just like our country, they are presented as beautiful and organized from the outside, but they are just balls of fire waiting to explode. To pollute our skies or accidentally set our diminishing trees ablaze. For years America has been able to upkeep the general presentation of a country that has it together, but we are living in a state that is ready to explode at any moment.