Today is always a day filled with complicated emotions for me. How does one deal with the celebration of a nation whose very founding was built on the backs of my ancestors and the genocide of a thousand nations? And yet this nation, with all its flaws showing, stood up to power in a way that still inspires me, created two founding documents full of hope and promise (and some hypocrisy) and inspired the world by showing what a modern republic could look like.
Like all other nations, this is still a flawed place; with systemic racism, sexism, homophobia, hetero- and cisnormative behaviors (and so much more); a place with an uncomfortable amount of willful ignorance. And yet this nation, with all its flaws still showing, is a nation that in its own halting way has welcomed immigrants from around the world, is the first western nation to elect a minority person of color to its highest seat of government, has giddily pursued exploration and education, and still inspires many.
So today, I remember that while many of my ancestors had no choice in being here, I do - and I deeply love this nation, with all of its scars and even horrors, but also with its hope and its great promise. I love this crazy experiment of a place.
Today, I try to remember that like Frederick Douglass said, we are all fellow sufferers. He talked about the fact that there was not just the black slave, but the white slave - that the institution of slavery deeply damaged all. It was not one group of people against another group, but a single group of people who all suffered. The elimination of injustice strengthens all.
Today, I try to remember that there is no 99% and no 1%, there is the 100%. We are all hurt by the actions of our siblings, who themselves are hurt in ways they cannot see. Let us be unwavering in the fight against injustice, not only to elevate those who are persecuted, but those who persecute. Let those of us who claim the United States of America fulfill this nation’s promise with grace and mercy.
Happy July 4th.