The fourth of July is celebrated annually in America as Independence Day. Although the country as a whole might be liberated, many Americans are anything but free. African-Americans have long been viewed as second-class citizens while being oppressed, mistreated, and disproportionately targeted. The recent Orlando massacre also highlights another portion of America that has yet to witness the benefits of freedom. For these communities, July 4th is nothing more than a three-day weekend filled with fireworks, pool parties, barbecues, and other festivities. What many have failed to accept is, Independence Day in America does not equal freedom for many Americans.
It is a sad reality when trying to reconcile the tentacles of the Declaration of Independence. A day in history with so much importance seems so irrelevant to many Americans who are forced to deal with the pain of inequality as a normal way of life. When people are mishandled simply because of who they love, the color of their skin or their religion of choice, freedom is not part of the equation. This does not erase the continued mission of America to live up to the promise of freedom the country has declared. However, it also does not eliminate the pain of a hope not realized.
As social media filled the internet with mixed feeling surrounding Independence Day, some felt as if people were going too deep in their emotions. The United States of America is the land of the free and the home of the brave, but it is hard to rationalize a holiday centered on freedom when many have not yet achieved a position of equality or the respect expressed by documents Americans hold so dear. As long as there is sociological, economic, judicial, political, and institutionalized discrimination it will remain difficult to grasp the “greatness” of America or the hype of its independence.
As it stands, Independence Day still does not equal freedom for many Americans. These days, it seems the concepts of liberty and freedom are under attack. While some are celebrating the virtues of equality, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, others are still reaching to “qualify” for the benefits of these rights.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that 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.
America is a great country filled with possibility. However, as long as police brutality, mass incarceration, mental slavery, LGBTQ discrimination, and unjust attacks on religious communities still exist it will remain difficult for some to declare independence. If there is any doubt that unjust treatment still exists, just ask the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner or Akyra Murray, Stanley Almodovar III, Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, Darryl Roman Burt II, Oscar A Aracena-Montero, and Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez. They are all victims of the grave reality that Independence Day in America does not equal freedom for all Americans.
Freedom is a crucial part of the American dream and is owed to Americans by right, and by virtue of the very creed that America professes to represent, “All men are created equal.” The freedom that all Americans should celebrate on Independence Day is one that men fought and died to achieve. Currently, Independence Day may not equal freedom for everyone, but the hope is that all of America will come to recognize that the benefits of the holiday belong to all Americans regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.
Opinion by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
Forbes: Is The Declaration Of Independence Based On A Lie?
NPR: ‘They Were So Beautiful’: Remembering Those Murdered In Orlando
Communities Digital News: Being Black on Independence Day
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