Why I’m Not Gung-Ho Over “Independence Day”
By Bianca Hayes
Okay. Where do I begin? I am usually down for the family get-togethers, followed by fireworks and more get-togethers, but I just cannot get with the program this year. Exactly, what am I celebrating? Within the last month alone, we’ve witnessed: a couple of incidents with Black girls getting assaulted at pool parties, the Charleston shooting, and the burnings of at least seven African Methodists Episcopal Churches, in addition to a plethora of other events that continue to show us that unfortunately, Black lives really don’t matter. Of course as a Black woman, I believe that both Black men and Black women are vital, but the powers that be prove otherwise.
It’s emotionally draining and very difficult to fathom how to ameliorate the circumstances of Black people in America, because it seems that we cannot win either way. It is a commendable act to be unified in peaceful protests, but I believe that only so much gets done this way. On the other hand, when people riot because they are overwhelmed with anger and grief due to being abused, they are labeled as “hoodlums” and “thugs”. So, what calls for this celebration?
My father, who grew up in the ’60s in an area where it was normal for neighbors to have a Confederate flag waving on their flag pole (nothing much has change to this day), had folks that told him “as long as you keep your nose clean, you’ll have a decent life.” While I don’t know everything, this is a statement that doesn’t apply in today’s time. You can be a “well-to-do” person with several degrees, a person that is unemployed, or even a veteran who has served the “Land of the free”. If you are Black, it doesn’t matter. Either way, there is a great possibility that you will be followed around in establishments, or killed in some scenarios. Explain to me again: what independence I am celebrating?
I’m blessed that my parents made sure that I was “woke” from an early age by teaching me about Black culture (before and after the transatlantic slave trade), so that I couldn’t be told any different of what has come before me. But honestly, I thought that from what I learned, the worst was behind us-until I entered high school and learned of the stories of Troy Davis, Trayvon Martin, in addition to the never-ending list of Black men and Black women who’ve been killed simply because of the color of their skin. These instances showed me that, in fact, we are living in past times, and that no Black person is too far removed from any oppressive situation (even if injustice was not done to you directly).
As I stated before, I love a good time, but after the series of events that show a blatant disregard for my race, I am not in a celebratory mood.
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