Today we celebrate our most patriotic, most American holiday. Along with more than 50 other countries, we won our independence from Britain. It used to be said that the sun never sets on the British empire, because God doesn’t trust them in the dark. Some would argue that the US has since replaced the UK as the world’s colonizer. Our colonization may look different than that of the British but it is rooted in the same discriminatory ideology yielding very similar results.
I’m not interested in insulting my country on its birthday. I celebrate independence from all colonizing powers, ideologies and mentalities. I appreciate that our founders fought and struggled for our independence. I appreciate the founding documents that provided the origins of a political and social system that are the basis of these United States. At the same time, I am under no delusion to think our founding fathers and documents included “all people” regardless of ethnicity or gender. Our founders were slave owners who excluded women, Native americans and Black americans from those fundamental rights that were so eloquently articulated in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. It was not the founders but the people of this great nation that fought and earned their rights and independence. Our government has historically conceded very little, it is usually the struggles of common American citizens that brought about real progress and change.
More than two centuries later there are still millions of Americans fighting for equality and independence. There are millions of women still struggling for equal pay and reproductive rights over their own bodies. There are Black churches still burning to the ground at the hands of those who do not believe in equality and human dignity. There are Native americans and minorities across the country who are still treated as second class. Conditions may have improved since the days of slavery but American gender and racial equality is still far from reality.
I consider myself an optomist and I do still celebrate American independence and believe in our great potential to do better. For those who truly value independence and equality, for those who love their country and its ideals, let this day serve to motivate and empower us to speak out and work for justice and equality until it becomes our reality, until we become the example of equality that our founding fathers never intended.