I wasn’t planning on posting this week – forgive any spelling errors as I am on my phone – because I’m on vacation and for once had this crazy idea that I would actually take a vacation and not attempt productivity. Not to mention that I don’t actually have a paying job so…
While I am not feeling particularly celebratory about this year‘s Independence Day, I don’t feel like I can completely ignore it. It’s interesting – the celebration of an independence that wasn’t designed with most of us in mind. How do we reconcile an independence designed for white land-owning men for the purpose of protecting slavery on land stolen from Indigenous Peoples? Why is it only this year that we are questioning what is worth celebrating about that?
I am seeing a lot of social media posts along the lines of, “I don’t like everything going on in our country, but at least we have the freedom to disagree and voice our opinions.” But do we really? Or is that just more ethos we have internalized about the country we live in and the purported freedom we enjoy? Is the bar so low that the fantasy that “at least we can speak our minds on Facebook (where our personal data is being mined, exploited and sold to companies)” really the level of freedom we strive for? I personally don’t consider a country free where the majority opinion on issues from gun control to abortion and beyond are not reflected in our laws. Where potential representatives who actually share opinions with the majority cannot win elections because of dark money, gerrymandering and voter suppression. I think we clutch to this fantasy of freedom because the alternative – that we are frogs slowly boiling in the water of a theocracy ruled by the rich minority – is a terrifying consideration.
It’s time that we sever the love affair with our purported democracy and start fighting for actual freedoms that we believe are enshrined in the Constitution. We place a lot of value in what the Founding Fathers might have wanted, but I view what they developed as framework for government. Maybe the foundation of a democracy shouldn’t center around what white, slave-owning men in the 1700s would have wanted because the modern world would have certainly baffled them. What we need is structural change and that won’t happen if we do not see the Constitution as a living, breathing, flexible document. And, as much as Republicans like to tout the Constitution as “the final word” they are quick to attack expanding the court and removing the filibuster — two things not protected or mentioned in the Constitution.
Proud to Be An American?
Growing up I never really questioned where I lived.
Even after 9/11 (I was a teenager at the time) and living in such close proximity to NYC, there was really no doubt in my mind that I lived in the greatest nation in the world. That narrative was both implicit and explicit in my education, ironic considering how we studied the propaganda that “other” countries participate in never questioning if we ourselves were consuming the exact same thing. America was never the bad guy. Sure, bad things happened in our history, but those were neatly explained away with the passing of legislation. Never once do I remember examining how people found ways around laws to continue to suppress marginalized voices. Slavery didn’t end with the Civil War. Not all women received the right to vote under President Wilson. etc.
I bring this up because I never seriously questioned where and how I was raising my children. I never actually thought I would have to consider “the line” where we have no choice but to get out. Even typing that feels a tad hysterical, but is it really? We live in a country where our five-year-old’s learn active shooter drills because we value guns more than their lives. Where my kids may not be able to access medical services because of abortion bans. Where the air is becoming more polluted, water sources more toxic because capitalism has always been more important than quality of life. Where I’m not sure if we can afford to send them to college without having them incur crippling debt, where they can’t afford a home, where one trip to the ER might bankrupt them because of our shite healthcare system. The list goes on and on.
At what point do you say enough is enough? Am I kidding myself by thinking my children are living their best lives because they were born in America?
Again, these are just thoughts in my head (although I am considering culling info on immigration just in case – I am a type-A Capricorn after all). But there is this part of me that wants to fight for a different America. An America that recognizes her dark history and tries to make amends. An America with a social safety net. An America ruled by the actual majority. An America worthy of celebration and hot dogs and fireworks.