Friday, July 4, 2014

Published 12:39 PM by with 1 comment

Happy Independence Day, America!

Yes, We Rise|  Happy Independence Day, AmericaToday is July 4th... Independence Day in America. For many of us, it is a day to celebrate and party with friends and family. To enjoy the summer weather, eat good food and be happy. The day is filled with historical references to times and people long gone.  As a person who thoroughly enjoys history, especially the history of black people in America, the day is very interesting to me. 

However, as a person of color in America, the day has a duality of perspectives for me. 

I am the descendant of slaves. I have no shame or fear with that statement. It is a fact of my ancestry. Not all black people in America have that same past. But we're all treated similarly because you cannot look at our skin and see who is a descendant of slaves, who is a descendant of free black people, who is a recent immigrant and who is perhaps not identified as black at all.  We are simply judged initially by how we look and what that look reminds someone else of. 

The residual pain and anguish of the time in this country when African people were captured, kidnapped, brought to a foreign place without their permission, forced to work in servitude under horrible conditions and treated as lowly as the farm animals... hasn't completely disappeared. Things are drastically different today from the way they were in 1776 when America took destiny into her own hands and decided to become who she wanted to be, separate and independent from Great Britain. Things are different but we have a ways to go.

This isn't a post about history though. This post is about the duality of the day for the citizens of this country who have been marginalized for varying reasons. As a black American, a descendant of slaves... I celebrate the day of Independence from Great Britain even as I recognize that MY ancestors were not free on that day. My ancestors would not be freed legally for another 100+ years. And then my people would experience another 100 years of legalized and systemic oppression in the same country that expressed in 1776 that they felt it was their destiny to chart their own path as a country. 

Destiny for some? But not all... 

This blog is about sharing stories and learning from other people's lives; triumphs and failures. That includes the history of a country that was strengthened by citizens that it sometimes refused to acknowledge or that were treated as criminals because they didn't look white enough. It is, in my opinion, an unfortunate truth that my nation has to come to grips with at some point. In the meantime, I still feel pride from the courage that it took to decide that the homeland you once knew was currently insufficient for the dreams that you have about your future. And to then take a step forward into an unknown future because you simply feel that you can create your own world.

America is not a perfect union. But it is a great country. Being told all of your life that your destiny is yours to create and yours to fight for... is so very empowering. That (to me) is what makes America powerful. We tap into the hopes and dreams of all of the people. What weakens us is that at the same time some of the citizens are taught that despite being in the same country, they are not quite eligible for the same dreams. Destiny is available for some... but not all. 

My father served in the military. He grew up in a small town right beside a big Air Force base. I have many members of my family who are active or retired military. I have an uncle who lost his life in the Vietnam war. I, myself, participated in the JROTC program in high school because I wanted to have a military career when I was a kid. (I was terrible at that entrance exam though, so my dream had to shift a bit) All that to say, being patriotic and supportive of my country is what I know. It is how I grew up and it is what I believe. That doesn't mean that I am blind to the inconsistencies of my nation and the ways that people of color are often targeted in ways that mainstream America is not. It simply means that I believe in the higher, broader vision of destiny as I acknowledge that I have to work at least twice as hard as someone else to take advantage of that destiny. 

I look forward to spending the day celebrating with friends and family... enjoying some good barbecue and watching fireworks later on. I look forward to continuing to map my destiny and charting my own course too.  I am an American citizen. Even if some of my neighbors may want to deny me the privileges that comes along with that. 

Their fear cannot stop my destiny. 

*This is a powerful TED talk by George Takei... speaking about how he loves a country that didn't always love him in return.*

1 comment:

  1. This was just the reminder I needed to get off sodas completely. :( Very tasty but not good for you at all. Thanks for this.