My whole life I’ve celebrated the Fourth of July as a day of freedom. Today, July 3rd, I watched a moving reminder by Daveed Diggs based on Frederick Douglass’ “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”
Now, as an adult, I’ve come to realize that the day I’m celebrating is unequal. My whole family is white, middle class. While there’s nothing wrong with being part of the middle class, we all benefit from the whiteness of our skin.
The day of our independence is not so, as Daveed Diggs points out in his poignant spoken-word piece, for Black people. There are still issues that need to be addressed, especially about defunding and better training our police forces here in the United States. My eyes were opened when I saw—via Instagram—how other countries take their time in training their police. It made sense. It was a no-brainer.
I believe that Black lives matter. I’m willing to humble myself and say this because I don’t believe that I’m better than anyone else based on the whiteness of my skin. I’m here to learn, to listen, and to be an ally. The way I’ve been raised is to think about other people, and I shall continue to do that.
As a white person, I cannot begin to imagine what it’s like being Black. Even though I’ve educated myself, I will never fully understand or grasp what it means to be treated differently based solely on the color of your skin.
While I am a person of white privilege, I do not believe in white power. I am fearful and disheartened by the hate groups that exist here in America. I find it horrifying that we allow people to continue to spread messages of hate against Black lives, gay lives, and (sadly) more.
In 2019, the Southern Poverty Law Center (or SPLC) tracked 940 hate groups across the U.S. These include groups such as white supremacy, Neo-Nazi’s, Holocaust Deniers, general hate, hate music, and anti-Muslim. Here in Minnesota, where I live, we have groups that are anti-Muslim, Radical Traditional Catholicism, and General Hate to name a few.
While these places of hate aren’t exactly close to me, I still know of at least one place where there’s some form of hate. I myself live in a conservative town, where you have to hide your liberal, Democratic ideology. Or talk with people who agree with you under the radar. While it’s not like I’m being policed for my beliefs, I’m still very careful to avoid certain topics at work (where I only let a very small amount of people—okay, maybe one or two—people know that I’m a liberal person). I’m not political at work and am usually more liberal about what I share from other feeds on Instagram. There, I feel safe to be myself and in support of others.
This Fourth of July, I will be thinking about Black lives, and how we can be better allies to those who need it most. I will be sharing Daveed Diggs’ video with my dad, who understands the importance of history.
This Fourth of July, I urge you to think about how we can better celebrate our nation’s independence, and how we all need to walk the walk instead of just talking the talk.