It’s the Fourth of July, 2021.
I’m sitting here, in my comfortable, small apartment, biding time before going to a commUNITY event here in Salem. This will be a slightly different Independence Day celebration. The focus will be shifted from fireworks and mock war to building community and diversity.
Before I head on over to Bush Park, I have to drop some thoughts on this.
This day, in my history, up until the past few years, has always been my favorite holiday.
What’s not to love? BBQs with family and friends, warm weather, languid twilight, cold beverages, and the crackle, flare, and color of fireworks.
I love fireworks. I always have.
We’re in fire season now, though. There’s been a drought and it’s lasted much longer than the past decade.
Take that metaphor as you will.
This is really Codependence Day, though.
Let’s deconstruct this a little bit.
We all know the story about how the colonists on this continent railed against British oppression. This is a source of pride for many US citizens.
I mean, come on…the little guys took on Goliath. The little guys had more grit, more guts, more passion, and outlasted a giant that, at that point, had greedily scarfed down most of the world in its insane drive for resources and power.
We did it! I mean…yeah! Who wouldn’t be proud of this?
*can you hear the needle being dragged across the record here…?*
Wait a minute.
Have you ever noticed how we white folks love to be the underdog who comes out on top? It’s like…our modus operandi.
Seriously, take a look at this. Whether it’s white Christians reminding us about Egypt and Rome or white US citizens reminding us about the British…we love to hear stories about how we endured despite all odds. How we gutted through the bad guys who beat us up and ended up giving them a good ol’ dose of their own medicine.
Now stop….right where you’re at.
It’s time to flip the switch and take a look from a different perspective.
And I’d better not hear a “Get over it”.
For real, Citizen, as long you’re still celebrating a victory that happened nearly 250 years ago, you have no space to ignore the sins that have been committed in the name of our country since then. Try as we might, the domination, oppression, and attempted genocide carried out in the name of this country is pretty damn unforgettable.
It’s time to confess, good ol’ U.S. It’s time to acknowledge, take accountability, and repent for those sins against humanity. If you’re uncomfortable with seeing these words, before you go on some emotionally charged red, white, and blue tirade against it, stop and sit with it a second.
Why is it okay for our white ancestors to rail against oppression by the British but it’s not okay for our Black and Indigenous communities to speak out and take action against that which is oppressing them?
Maybe it’s because it’s *us* oppressing them? Aren’t *we* supposed to be the humble underdog? When did we become the bad guy? Are we really the bad guy?
As I sit here, thinking of the thousands of Indigenous child bodies being found RIGHT NOW in Canada and what will soon be discovered in the US…the tragically high numbers of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls…the Black men that are being disproportionately imprisoned and murdered by the police…the massive lack of BIPOC political representation that exists in our state and federal governments…I have a hard time not seeing us as the bad guy.
How can I feel pride in busting the shackles of oppression when my country simply turned around and shackled others?
I want to be proud of my country. I want to take my flag back from the hypocritical people who deface it and defame it. I want to trust my government to not be hypocritical…I need my country to prove it.
We can’t fix this until the full and true stories are brought to light. The slave stories. The Jim Crow survivor stories. The Vanport, Tulsa, and similar stories. The Japanese internment camp stories. The migrant worker stories. More stories like those of Sally Hemings, Mildred and Richard Loving, Cesar Chavez, Marsha P. Johnson, Russell Means, or George Takei.
I want Independence Day back…and I want it to be a true Independence Day, when this country manages to free itself from it’s own hypocrisy and codependent behavior.
I want my flag back and I want to be able to wave it proudly with my eyes wide open.