Land of the Free: The Fourth of July

The Fourth of July. Red, white, and blue has thrown up all over the country and the fireworks stock has been depleted once more to celebrate the day when we as a country became free. So many people will end up in jail for drinking and driving, indecent exposure, and many other charges that come with tonight. But while we are celebrating, we should be aware of exactly what we are celebrating.

My first fourth of July memory was me dropping my beloved blues clues fork close to the fire pit set up in the backyard. I was probably about 3 so I don’t remember too many details, but I do remember I got my fork back.

When I was a child, I just assumed that the fourth of July meant that it was the day we gained our freedom. As I grew up, I realized the nuance in this topic. In class we were taught that the USA declared their independence on July 4th, 1776. Hpwever, that freedom fid not extend to women or slaves. Both were considered property of men. Women weren’t given the right to vote until around 1920, and are still today fighting battles for rights. Many people of African descent weren’t given freedom until June 19th, 1865, when the last of the slaves in Texas were released. From then on, Black people in the US have gone through segregation and Jim Crow, the education system, the “war on drugs”, and police brutality, white supremacy, and anti-blackness. Being black, while it has been an improvement from 1776, has taken on a new list of burdens in 2015. Black people of all ethnicities, ages, and classes now walk around hoping they don’t find someone who retaliates against them simply for the color of their skin.

Black people celebrate this holiday, rejoicing in the fact that we are free, but we are still blind to the fact that we now live in a country where people take greater offense in the fact that a terrorist was wearing a Gold Gym’s tank top as he burned the American flag than the fact that he went into a historically black church and killed 3 black men and 6 black women despite the fact that he claimed he was offended by the raping of white women by black men. Land of the free, but just how free are we? Let me know your thoughts, and as always, thanks for reading.

-JW

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