There’s no holiday that makes me more conflicted than the Fourth of July. Fan of history, geography and flags I knew how to sing the Splanged banner by 9 and wanted to join it’s Navy by 12. Just as today, by virtue of aspirations to its ideals: Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, I felt American. Native of a nation so divided there’s no forseen political solution to its aches, my idolatry of America was the antidote to my homeland’s fate.
Can we inhibit ourselves first in the greatness of these ideals and dreams? That a child of immigrants becomes one of the most influential members of modern society? Can we absorb the splendor bestoyed through words of the national anthem, by no coincidence, begins in an exclamation, the most grandiose of its kind, ‘Oh!’, like a scream placing it’s hope in humanity? That perhaps we stand a chance of hope and democracy rallied behind a simple ideal, the most basic one to mankind, freedom?
At 13, I stopped being a child. My parents never warned about how my life’s worth is relative and that everyday I will walk in darkness seeking my way. I grew up in a black home, in my mind, I thought of racism the same as cannibalism, a practice so forgone only barbarians of a far lived land would be so shallow, in blatant rejection of humanity. Never would imagine that in no way of form this would be a common phenomenon of society.
This land has given me so much. The opportunity to dream, to have ideals, something to hang on to, perhaps even the audacity to write such a piece. To be the kid walking around aimlessly from neighborhood to neighborhood collecting cigarettes boxes, the child currency, you could even buy lunch with those, to become the employee of a company with the global reach so vast it feels like working for a government with embassies in every major city.
There’s quite some PR brilliance in the American dream, I can say, I can’t imagine where else would this be possible, with the caveat this is the only place I’ve tried. By the standard of what ideals are sold to society and that I have consumed, even by international standards, I’m not just a fart in the wind. In no way is this a mockery, juxtaposed gratitude, without trying to piss off my divine blessings.
I never drank the freedom cool aid, very apparent when Marines would be stationed in my country but motionless witnesses of the regular shellacking on the population. It has never been a secret that reality doesn’t mesh with ideals. It didn’t take long for my heart to grief, like the deception when your idol is a human, in flesh, with bad breath.
There’s a slippery slope intellectually about what is just. There was a time in history where guillotines were a required punishment and quite widespread. However, within context of hanging, there’s not the documented outrage of inhumanity I would expect of mankind. There’s also the delicate caveat of encroaching on cultural practices and how it’s a very Western thing to do. I’m guilty of it myself, calling cannibalism barbarian because it doesn’t align with my belief system.
This is to say I sympathize if ignorance causes one to fall short to see my lense. Also well aware if this is not a hot topic, after all, it’s not every humans right to protect the other’s right to welfare? Is it? Because if my rights are being violated without impunity yours will remain intact? Everyone else is a little smarter it never will happen to them, I presume.
Back to the fourth. Today I’m very uncomfortable. If this was a thriller, history books got it right on the American independence, however, neither the British nor the revolutionaries stood for African slaves back then. So excuse me if the irony weighs heavy on my chest as I see you get plastered on spirits while chanting a song under a banner that reminds me of the painful past of my ancestors on your land.
Frederick Douglass’ commemoration of the Declaration of Independence, held at Rochester’s Corinthian Hall in July 5th, 1854 says it the finest
What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants brass fronted impudence; your shout of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanks-givings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.