Happy July Fourth to all! A day where Americans everywhere celebrate the day, 240 years ago, that we as a nation declared our independence from the British Empire. But lately the perspective on this famous holiday has changed considerably since millennials have come to voting age. The name Independence Day has always had an asterisk next to it for the past few years, but why? Well anyone who’s studied American history knows that the phrase “All men are created equal” was never entirely true. For centuries afterwards, those who weren’t white or male, would have to continue fighting for their rights that were supposedly promised to them in this declaration.
See back when this document was written and signed in 1776, it was signed with the intent of making those who wrote it, and those who were like them, independent; blacks, women, and Native Americans were but the few who were denied their rights as people. At the time one of the founder fathers, Thomas Jefferson, owned a multitude of slaves (one of which he had a multitude of children with) and women were just one notch above slaves; Native Americans alone were all but exterminated at this point. Yet every year for almost 300 years, everyone collectively comes together to celebrate a holiday built on the illusion that all are free. We ignore the fact that it took 89 years for slaves to be freed, 144 years for women to vote, and 188 years for blacks to earn their civil rights, with an additional year afterwards to freely vote. Yet all of that seems to be forgotten or intentionally ignored when you consider the Fourth of July as just a holiday filled with barbeques and fireworks.
Now, in the 21st century, we’re still fighting for the so-called inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It was only last year that the gay community was given the right to get legally get married and, even now, the trans community is still fighting for their right to full equal rights. The declaration was not meant to represent the general populace of the United States; it was meant to ensure the independence of the white upper class. In many ways that tradition still continues. In an age where black history month is still viewed as trivial in the eyes of many, the idea of questioning this holiday seems almost taboo and “un-American”.
Now I’m not saying the holiday shouldn’t be celebrated; I doubt that after all this time that would even be possible. It’s good that, for once, people across the counrty can get together and have fun in the heat of the July sun, with family, friends, and even strangers. However, it should be celebrated with the consequences it created in mind. People seem to only recognize the glory of this day and not the pain it caused and would cause afterwards. So I ask that, on this day we remember those who didn’t get their independence when that declaration was signed on that July day.