I’ve been living my life in this “proud to be an American” fog because that’s what has been ingrained in me since childhood. Every time I see some superioristic commercial, song, or ad about how great America is I blindly believed it. Then I woke up.
Today is July 3rd and in the past I would’ve been parading around in red, white, and blue celebrating the upcoming “Independence Day” and by celebrating I mean going to cookouts, pool parties, taking part in shopping sales, and enjoying an extra day off of work. I’ve been celebrating this holiday because it’s a good ole American holiday representing the country’s “birthday” in 1776. But it wasn’t America’s birthday.
“America” had already existed with its own culture, history, and people. What Independence Day is really celebrating is the invasion of another country by the British then them calling it their own. The red celebrates the blood spill of Native Americans, the blue represents the bruises of the men, women, and children assaulted by British pioneers, and the white must be for the color of the people who took over the original 13 states.
In actuality, we are praising the colonization of someone else’s land through force and celebrating the British calling said land their own as if they stumbled upon an uninhabited island while on vacation.
The history of this country is quite horrific by any standards. Although we have claimed to make peace and have passed so called laws and benefits for those that are the product of the violence, sacrifice, and pain suffered to build the country we know today, I still don’t feel right celebrating that history. Independence Day isn’t for me.
The black people enslaved in this country weren’t freed until 1863 and many of those people weren’t informed until 2 years later. Who can count how many additional years it took those people to actually gain any resemblance of independence. Although the men and women parading around North America celebrating the land they murdered and ravaged for were independent in 1776, the Africans enslaved in this country weren’t.
I’m not sure what century the republican nominee is referring to when he says “make America great again” but this country was built by eradicating Native Americans. Then the country was harvested and developed, economy was strengthened, and wars were won on the backs of Africans enslaved against their will. The country continued to justify the mistreatment, and injustice of black people and spread that hatred and inequality to those who worshiped, loved, or looked different than the way they deemed acceptable. I’m struggling to distinguish the exact moment when and to whom America was so great.
Despite the tainted centuries it took to build this country, many people still flocked to it. This used to be “the land of opportunity”, a “melting pot” where individuals risked everything with the hope of building a better life for themselves or seeking safety from the conditions in their country. Now it seems like we are going in a direction where that hope for a better life is being threatened. Every time I turn around it seems that more and more people are emboldened to express their hatred, derogatory comments, and ideas of extracting those who don’t fit the “American way”. Whatever that truly means is based on who you’re speaking to.
I am not in the mood to celebrate America this year. It’s glory and grandeur have been tainted by the way Americans have carried themselves over the last few months, or decades, or centuries. It’s so easy to go along with the majority or mindlessly live life in a bubble. But once you learn more about your own personal history, the country’s history, and even the history of the dynamics between countries, it becomes harder to go along with blinders on. Now that I’m awake, my mind is filled with the enormous impact of violence and injustice, I can never go back to sleep.