the 4th of juLIES

“This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.” – Frederick Douglass

This 4th of July, while you rock your patriotic gear, gorge on grilled meat and pound beer to celebrate “merica” – take a minute to think about what you are actually celebrating.  Today’s holiday commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which states:

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.

You are celebrating the notion of equality for all that was written in the very document that created our nation…yet this ‘equality’ has not been evenly distributed among all social classes, races, genders, religions or sexual orientations.  These unalienable rights supposedly granted to all people – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – are only granted to some.  Today, we are essentially celebrating the false ideals of the American dream.  While you wave your flags, watch parades, and toss horseshoes in the back yard, please take some time to recognize that you are blessed to be among those who have been granted the rights written in the Declaration of Independence – and also acknowledge and empathize with those who are still fighting for the rights we are all supposed to have by simply living in this country:

Life – Not being killed at an alarming rate by law enforcement or living in a culture of violence and disregard for life.

Liberty – Not being targeted, arrested, and incarcerated at astonishing rates; Being able to marry whomever we love and express ourselves without fear of persecution.

The Pursuit of Happiness – Not worrying about your safety simply because you were born with a certain skin color, gender, or sexual orientation; Being allowed to have hopes and dreams for success, not growing up knowing that your aspirations have society-imposed limits.

Until these things are a reality for all people, none of us should be satisfied.  So today, pour one out for those who have died fighting for the liberties you likely take for granted daily, and for those who struggle constantly to make this equality a reality – not just words on a piece of paper.

-celeste

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