As I write this, it is July 4th, 2020. The year that everything felt like it turned upside down. The day that for centuries before, we’re celebrated America even more so than most people do on a regular basis. I’m writing this to you today for a specific reason, and I will explain why:
If you are celebrating 4th Of July, you need to reevaluate why you are doing that right now.
The 4th Of July, or Independence Day, is a day where we celebrate our “freedom”. Something that was created for us by the “Founding Fathers”. Let’s think about who those Founding Fathers were, shall we? White men who owned slaves. White men who thought that Black people were property. Black people, NO people, are property. They are human beings. And they can not (should not) be purchased, enslaved, or discriminated against in any way just because of the color of their skin.
Independence Day is supposed to be celebrating freedom, but what have we learned this year? No, not that freedom isn’t free (except I acknowledge that it isn’t, and also let’s remember the Black soldiers who fought in wars and didn’t even have an option to fight, choose what side they were on, or get the benefits of the freedom they were fighting for), but that none of us are actually free until everyone is free.
We’ve been awakened, finally, as a nation and planet, to the injustices that have been going on for centuries towards Black people. The murders, the slavery, the injustices, the systemic racism. We are doing all this work to educate ourselves and others. To protest for equal rights. To learn, have uncomfortable conversations, and be activists in whatever way we are able… but then we’re going to throw it all out the window on the 4th Of July because you have a tradition? Because you like fireworks, hot dogs, and swimming?
Look, if it helps, I used to love this holiday. I identify with fireworks in a big way. They’re big, bright, loud, and not for everyone. But they illuminate the sky in an incredible way that can take your breath away if you’re willing to stand and watch or interact with them. I’ve felt like “too much” for most of my life, and this was a good metaphor for me. I had a yearly tradition of getting a silly American flag bikini every year and wearing it with denim shorts and eating a hot dog. I adore sparklers.
But you know what I adore more? My values. My integrity. And the lives of Black people. My celebration that is rooted in racism that I never even thought to consider why I was celebrating is NOT more important than what I am fighting for.
For me, or you, to throw everything you’ve been doing out the window for one day is irresponsible, disrespectful, and the antithesis of this movement and uprising.
If you have posted quotes on your Instagram about equality, if you have marched, if you have written postcards, if you have done anything or simply BELIEVE that Black Lives Matter (which is TRUE), then celebrating the 4th Of July is a slap in the face to this movement. I don’t care if that hurts your feelings.
Black lives matter more than white feelings.
United States? Not really. What are we united in besides our rising cases of COVID-19? The only thing I am united in today is my fight against hate. That’s why I made this spray paint piece. It can be found off Harford Road on an abandoned bank near the Family Dollar store. Below you can see a time lapse video of me making it.