Pictures of fireworks , flags, hot dogs hamburgers and an array of other American traditions will soon flood your timeline as celebrations begin for the upcoming 4th of July Holiday.
Independence Day: the time of year when American pride is your duty as a free citizen of these great United States.
But the fact of the matter is, we are living in a time where less people are feeling “Proud to be an American”.
Where do I stand you ask? Truthfully. I don’t know.
Last year I was tasked with writing a spoken word piece for the holiday and it was smeared with loaded words designed to entice pride in our country. But I remember after writing it telling my best friend that though there was a time I believed everything I said, I was no longer sure I did.
Don’t get me wrong. I am certainly thankful for so many things that this country has to offer. We have made amazing contributions to the world through generosity, inventions and several other areas of importance. I am thankful for the liberties I have. I’m thankful for the freedom to say what I want, wear what I want and believe what I want. I’m thankful for the fact there hasn’t been a war on American soil in my lifetime and so I am only moderately fearful of the possibly of getting blown up by nukes. And I am beyond thankful for the excuse that Independence day gives me to let loose, relax and spend quality time with the ones I love. You will certainly catch me participating in some of these good ol’ ‘murican traditions.But those things aren’t enough to be able to declare that I bleed red, white and blue.
So what is it exactly is it that bothers me enough to say that I am not sure I am “proud”?
For starters, it is a baffling fact that we are still considered the most powerful nation in the world yet we fail to make it on the list for top 10 developed nations to live in in terms of education, health care, the wealth gap or even personal safety.
It does not make sense to me that our middle and lower class Americans are living paycheck to paycheck; they are afraid to get sick because the lack of affordable health care, unable to leave work for maternity leave or even lacking access to clean water while our wealthiest receive tax breaks for private jet travel.
Or what about the fact that we have the highest incarceration rate in the world. For a country so amazing, we are either raising up a sickening amount of criminals or our system is disgustingly broken.
I’m also still broken-hearted by the failure to acknowledge the inequity that still runs rampant in our society today.
A few days ago when I posted a video titled “my fellow white people”, a spoken word piece on white people advocating for a systematic change to alleviate racism and oppression, I was told by someone to never tag him again in my “liberal bullshit” .
I am certainly not denying that I am proudly and vocally left, by why on earth is speaking about equality considered a left winged value?
I read an article recently that detailed the difference between conservatives’ view of equality in comparison to that of liberals’. It stated the fundamental difference is that the right believes in equal opportunity where as the left wants equality of outcome (fairness) and equality and fairness are not necessarily one in the same. The idea being we all have the opportunity to access education, apply for the same jobs and so ultimately the outcome is dependent on the effort out it and skills brought to the table. But here is my question:
How is there equal opportunity when our millennial generation is drowning in student loan debt, immigration laws make it nearly impossible for immigrants to become legal citizens and our black population still earning less than their white counterparts?
How can I walk around and feel proud of my liberties when entirely too many of my fellow Americans don’t feel liberated?
More than anything, I am not proud of the fact the we as society can not seem to stand united about anything.
I know some Utopian society is impossible. But there is so much we can improve on. We could start with things like wage transparency laws, lessening the cost of citizenship and focusing on more affordable higher education. We could cap prices in the health care field well we strive for better coverage. We could acknowledge the flaws in our judicial system. And We could certainly all be a little kinder to those with opposing opinions instead of daily hate fueled, name calling social media rants.
Someone will read this and accuse me of liberal propaganda. I know at least one person will read this and tell me “if you hate America so much, leave” or “do you know how good we have it compared to other parts of the world?”. Well, I don’t hate America at all and yes I know we have it great in comparison to plenty of folks.
But Why is it the better than others has to be good enough? It doesn’t.
So if you ask me how proud I am to American I’ll probably hit you with a shoulder shrug and an empty stare because it is indeed possible to be thankful of what has been accomplished and what we have done right while still desperately hoping for and fighting to reform what we’ve gotten so horrifically wrong.