Me to our kids: People (usually white) will greet you with “Happy 4th of July.” Because we’ve talked about the interconnectedness of the struggle for freedom — and how July 4th has NEVER been a holiday that Black, Brown, Indigenous, and other non-white people claim (because their basic human rights have been systematically denied in this country — they’ve never been fully free), you can respond with Fannie Lou Hamer’s brilliant and ever timely phrase “Nobody’s Free Until Everybody’s Free.”
Kids: Okay…what will that do?
Me: It will cause people to pause. It will cause them to consider what that means. It might even make them ask who said that. Then you can tell them about Fannie Lou Hamer if you’d like. It will challenge our understanding of freedom, and demonstrate that this isn’t a holiday everyone can claim.
It will raise our collective imagination for a different way of being.
The posts of white people talking about protesting July 4th this year — for the “lack of independence” — and/or kneeling when the National Anthem plays are hard.
Hard because non-white people have been protesting July 4th — AND have lost their jobs kneeling during the National Anthem for decades (Read “What to the Slave is the 4th of July by Frederick Douglass, and Fannie Lou Hamer’s “I Question America” for starters.).
It is difficult for me – as a white person – to see these posts for the first time from so many of my family and friends — so I can’t imagine the pain they cause to nonwhite people. And of course, our lives are much more than social posts — so the truth that these posts illuminate, that our very actions, votes, purchasing power, and political power, are just now evolving is painful AND it is where we are.
We must evolve, yes. We must.
If this is your first time to have disappointment in this country because YOUR rights are now infringed upon, welcome to the struggle.
You are needed in the necessary rebirth before us.
But, be mindful that your awakening is late and difficult as mine was and continues to be, and I might imagine (though I can’t speak for anyone but myself), triggering to non-white people.
So we move forward with intentionality and humbly, remembering that we’ve ALWAYS been conditioned by whiteness and the intentional goals of the “founding fathers:” white supremacy, patriarchal control, and a theocratic Christian nation.
Nobody’s Free Until Everybody’s Free.
May it be so.