I’ll preface this entire thing by saying I’m already annoyed with this holiday because my neighbors decided to set off fireworks that come in canisters the size of a small child for HOURS this evening, the 3rd of July, which sent my zoo of a household into a frenzy. Those things belong on the barges in the Mississippi, y’all. Not in front of your house under big ass oak trees. I don’t even understand why we DO THIS. It’s basically lighting money on fire. And rarely does anyone ever actually have the disposable, light on fire-able income to REALLY go all out and put on a full show, so it’s just annoying from start to finish because you spent a ton of money and it still wasn’t even great. WHY?!
Someone asked me the other day if we “had big plans for the 4th”. And I answered honestly, “Nope. Sure don’t. Not exactly feeling that whole ‘patriotic’ thing right now.”
In the past few days, I have l
istened to our president read statements the President has made on his Twitter account tearing apart journalists with a now very familiar taste of misogyny. I have watched the STATE. OF. MISSISSIPPI. tell the Federal Government where they can stick their invasive request for voter information. Buzz Aldrin gave me a reprieve in the middle of all this, as he was unable to control his face during a NASA press conference with the President and it was fantastically funny. But then to top it all off, I have witnessed this country’s president post a video from his Wrestle-freaking-mania appearance, edited to appear like he was beating up a news network.
THEN I watched as Americans legitimately questioned, “is this appropriate behavior for a president?”
Sweet Lord. HOW IS THIS A QUESTION? How in the world is this a real question? We’ve for real lost all our damn marbles. All of ’em. THEY ARE ALL GONE. We have moved the standard of behavior SO FAR DOWN that we are now legitimately questioning whether this fool’s behavior is “appropriate”?!
Let me help:
I don’t want my elementary age children acting like this, much less the freaking President of the United States of America.
Which brings me to my next point:
It’s real interesting what we will excuse and what we choose to find fault in these days, on the whole.
President’s utter shit behavior? Excused. He won, get over it, blah blah blah, something about people in poverty and Medicaid and I’m tired of paying for your poor health choices and oh my God, don’t you have a job? (No, none of this is relative to his behavior, but that matters not, it seems.)
Can’t actually afford housing working full time? FAULT FOUND. Shoulda got a better job. Shoulda gone to college. Went to college? Should have majored in something better. Don’t look at me. I don’t want to pay an extra $.18 for my Big Mac just for you to be able to afford some sort of housing.
Police shoot (another) black man? Excused. Don’t get pulled over, don’t get stopped, don’t get questioned by police and you won’t have anything to worry about. Just act right and you’ll be fine.
Black woman with mental health issues shot by cops? FAULT FOUND. I’d like to say there’s some sort of argument in use here other than “Well, she shouldn’t have been mentally unstable and holding a knife” but that seems to be the best that America can do with that one.
Work to strip away healthcare from millions of old folks, disabled people, and little kids? Excused. Talk to Obama about that. Because that’s his fault. Shouldn’t have let “Obamacare” suck so much.
On that note, we did all see the footage of people LITERALLY BEING REMOVED FROM THEIR WHEELCHAIRS by police officers as they protested on Capitol Hill, right? Because if you didn’t, I’mma need you to go Google that real quick.
And then I want you, White America, to Google that dashcam video of Philando’s last minute on this earth.
And then watch that video of his handcuffed fiancee and her baby girl sobbing in the back of a patrol car. Listen to that 4 year old tell her mama she needs her to calm down because she doesn’t “want her to get shooted.”
And then, fellow White Folks, Google that
survellience footage, errm, dashcam footage, ok, just realize the only footage we, the People, have a year later of Alton Sterling’s death is the video the store owner took that night as he watched his friend take 3 shots to the chest and then 3 to the back. So go read the DOJ report…then read the comments from Alton’s family about what the DOJ told them…and then go read the comments from the specifically chosen community members the DOJ held another meeting with, where they outlined how horrified they and their independent experts were by the escalation of the encounter, how they lost sleep over the investigation…Go read that.
Go watch the videos from Freddie/Walter/Tamir/Terence/Laquan/insert one of hundreds of names here.
Go talk to a real life Muslim. Be prepared though, he probably doesn’t actually want to kill you. Matter of fact, he’ll probably pray for you and wish you a beautiful day.
Go look up hate crime statistics. Look up what’s being done in the name of our Wrestlemania President.
Read up on the ACTUAL statistics of who benefits from Medicaid (SPOILER ALERT: It’s a whole lot of old people. And kids. And people with severe disabilities. And they’re mostly…white.)
Watch Ava DuVernay’s”13th”.
Then go watch the History Channel’s “War on Drugs”.
I’d tell you to read a book or two here, but there’s just too many to list that we should all read.
But then keep trying to tell me we’re all good. Tell me that we are where we are right now because we have all been given the exact same shot. Tell me we haven’t failed a large portion of this country (and honestly, we’ve taken hella advantage of a lot of places all over the globe. We ain’t above it). Tell me we haven’t continuously found ways to oppress and enslave people from the moment ol’ Christopher’s boat rolled up on the coast of this country he “discovered”. (note: you can’t “discover” and claim a place if there’s literally already people there. Think about that. It’s like someone coming in a few years behind a marine scientist who discovered a new species of fish that lives 283 miles below the surface and being like “Hey. Cool. Found a fish down here. Gonna name it after myself.” “But it already has a name because it’s already been discovered.” “Nah, this is gonna be my thing now.” and then he coughs on everything and all the fish and scientists get sick. But that might possibly get you an American holiday. …I digress.)
So after all this research, PLEASE tell me it’s not at all because they’re not white and/or not wealthy. That it’s not because White America looks at anyone who is not obviously/outwardly the right amount of white as somehow “less than”.
You can miss me with this “Independence Day” celebration this year. Because I can’t celebrate what we’re doing and how we’re acting and where we’re going, and this freedom so many people SHOULD have but still DON’T have.
I question the “greatness” of a country, as it bans immigrants and talks about building a wall, that seems to have forgotten we were nothing BUT a bunch of immigrants who invaded foreign lands, shoved Native people to the side, and then hauled black people across oceans by the thousands to literally build this country on their backs, with their blood, their sweat, their tears, and we STILL do whatever we can to ensure that we white folks stay a rung ahead of “them” on the Ladder of American Greatness.
I can’t celebrate telling people how they need to tug on their bootstraps a little harder when we never even checked to see if they had shoes.
I can’t celebrate the freedom to forget what it means to give a damn about other people.
Lest you think I don’t love this country, you know what I will appreciate on this Tuesday, July 4th?
For starters, I’ll appreciate that it’s still (for now) possible to write something like this and not fear for my life. (Though maybe we don’t send this to 45’s Twitter, deal?)
I’ll appreciate the ability to raise some hell when I disagree.
I’ll appreciate the freedom I have to tell my kids the good, the bad, and yes, the ugly of this country.
I’ll appreciate my whiteness and the privilege I’ve been given in this life because of the shade of my skin. I sure as hell didn’t ask for it, and for a long time I didn’t fully appreciate what it meant to be White in America. Hell, I still don’t. I’m not sure you can if you actually ARE White in America, because it’s pretty hard to see things that feel so very basic as actual privileges that aren’t given to everyone; to really see privilege that is nearly invisible to us because we’ve never been without it. We never had to gain it, never had to fight for it. Hard to notice something like that, and takes work to appreciate the weight of that. (note: I said ‘appreciate’. Meaning “understanding the value”. Not celebrate. There’s a difference, and my word choice is intentional, before anyone tries to come at me on this.)
But above everything, I’ll appreciate the hell outta my people. My people that I love fiercely, who come in all shades from white to black and all the colors of the Pride flag. Male, female, gay/straight/trans. Christian, Muslim, athiest, agnostic. Born here, immigrated here. Truly, not much makes me happier than how odd my friends really are as a collective group. Its our differences, its our messiness, the sheer imperfectness of it all that, to me, is so utterly American. By appreciating the diversity among us, we challenge each other to see further than we could ever see with only our own eyes.
The most American, patriotic thing we can all do is demand more of our ourselves and our country. Don’t tell me to get out if I don’t like it. I love this country…and that’s why I will constantly want better. For ALL Americans.
I know we CAN do better. I know we CAN be more.
I know we could actually truly one day be Really, Really Great. (Like, for…the first time. Not “again”.)
But it doesn’t come about by excusing pathetic behavior, enabling bullies, supporting oppression, and overlooking the need to see the humanity in other people.
So this “4th of July”, I challenge you to really think about what you’re celebrating. Think about how you’re viewing everything these days: is it only through your own eyes? Or are you daring enough to try looking at things from another point of view where you may have to get a little uncomfortable?
It’s time to get back to those “unalienable rights” that we founded this country on: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.