When I was younger, the 4th of July was a time to pop fire crackers. I remember sneaking off with my cousins during the family cook out to pop them in different places around the neighborhood. As I have gotten older and paid attention in school, my thoughts have drastically changed.
Being from VA, it was drilled in school that VA was the first colony of the present-known USA. I’ve learned for years that VA is rich with history. A couple of years ago, however, I had some mentors and participated in a slave walk that started to change my thinking. I learned that VA was not just the first colony of the US; it was also the place, in 1619, where the first Africans arrived in America. Not only that, it would later serve as the state that housed the capital of the Confederate States of America (Richmond).
For the first time, I noticed that history was presented in different ways- depending on the teacher and what he or she wanted you to leave with. When I applied this thinking to the forth of July, I began to question why African Americans celebrate it at all–slaves were not freed in 1776 when Americans gained their independence. When we celebrate the 4th of July, are we celebrating our condition then?
As I share these thoughts with other people, I get a lot of slack. People question my logic, motives, and a host of other things. Sometimes people even ask me where I would rather live. After I say Canada, they question my commitment to this nation. But I am forced to question America’s commitment to me.
I live in a neighborhood that’s not so good. Many people think its just TV, but when you can’t even sit on your own front porch in the evening because you fear there will be a shoot out, you live in a bad neighborhood. When police enforcement units take thirty minutes to respond to a call in your neighborhood, something is not normal. How long should it take for a dispatch to arrive when lives are in danger? Does this happen in all neighborhoods, irrespective of race or class? I doubt it.
The school I attend is not in that great of a neighborhood either, and the public school transportation is terrible. My city has cut down on the number of bus routes in an effort to decrease the number of fights that take place on the bus between the different rivals in the different neighborhoods. But this doesn’t fix the problem. Additionally, last year, one of my teachers clearly explained why he couldn’t teach us due to the lack of city-funded material needed for the subject. How am I supposed to be prepared to compete with someone for a corporate position went to a school with all the needed materials? Is this commitment? Am I anti-American because I view things differently? Am I the only one who feels this way? I wonder how the people who were stranded after Hurricane Katrina feel about America. I wonder how the people who lost their houses during this recession after the banks and other corporations were bailed out. Was America committed to them?
I don’t know about you, but I will not be celebrating the 4th of July until I believe that America is committed to all of her citizens. Committed or not committed, that is the question. I say no. What do you say?