How can we lie to ourselves that America is star spangled awesome when the promises written in this country’s founding document, the Declaration of Independence, have yet to include all Americans?
On July 4, 1776, our country’s forefathers shocked many by their remonstrations, as other colonialists cowered to the thought of rebelling against the British. It is easy to see today that our forefathers were right, and the British were wrong, but at that time, to side in favor of the colonies, put one at an enormous risk.
Despite their bravery and the overcome adversity, the rhetoric of the Declaration of Independence fell short for millions of Americans due to their race, ethnicity or gender.
The distance between our society today and the colonies under British rule is undeniably considerable and the difficulties overcome to get to where we are today are by no means minuscule, yet those principles laid out in the Declaration of Independence on freedom, equality and justice have yet to be fully extended to all Americans.
It is due to this disparity, that the 4th of July means little to those that have yet to be included in its promises. Everything that serves to perpetuate these inequalities and injustices binds our future to failure in living up to the principals laid out in the Declaration of Independence, which stated, “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Since 1776, America has struggled too slowly to enact this claim of equality for all of its citizens. It took almost 100 years later for the institution of slavery to be abolished, only after a brutal civil war. It took then another 100 years for civil rights to be granted by law to African Americans. How much longer is it going to take to eradicate the violence and hate towards African Americans that are routinely reported around the country today?
The 4th of July is a day to celebrate our nation’s accomplishments but it also needs to be a day to analyze our history, not just our successes, but its faults as well.
History forms our frames of reference and America’s collective consciousness.
If we do not acknowledge the faults and errors of our past that have formed the point of views that inhibit our country from overcoming its prejudices, we our doomed to repeat them—and the Declaration of Independence will continue to consist of unfulfilled ideals for many Americans.
To those who must face inequalities and injustices daily, what is the 4th of July?
It is an impious exercise in fraud and vanity, a hypocrisy of the crimes that are committed against many of its citizens daily because of the color of their skin, gender or sexuality. Our duty to extirpate inequality and injustice has gone unheeded and ignored by those oppressors that benefit from perpetuating prejudices.
Violent hate crimes against African American communities are still the norm across the country.
The recent shooting in Charleston and subsequent arsons of 8 African-American churches in cities all over the South are stark reminders of the racism and hate rampantly being cultivated in America. The confederate flag, a symbol of oppression and hatred towards African-Americans, is still touted as celebrated heritage by thousands of white Americans.
Many police departments still take a punitive approach to law enforcement when it comes to patrolling African American communities as opposed to the sense of stewardship afforded to predominantly white neighborhoods and the deaths of Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Jr., Eric Garner, Tanisha Anderson, Akai Gurley, Rumain Brisbon, Jerame Reid, Dontre Hamilton, John Crawford, Ezell Ford, Dante Parker, Tony Robinson, Phillip White, Eric Harris, Walter Scott, Antonio Zambrano-Montes, Freddie Gray and countless others are victims of the prejudice attitudes, all too frequently manifesting in the form of excessive force.
On the day that Americans celebrate their liberties, many still remain silent or even staunchly opposed to ensuring those liberties can be exercised by every single American.
These inconsistencies and the failure of their acknowledgment disturbs America’s present and endangers its future. The principals and accomplishments we celebrate on the 4th of July mean nothing if we do not take greater efforts to ensure they reign true for every individual American.