America’s Birthday

I’m writing this because a family friend just pissed me off on Facebook, and rather than commenting directly (which always feels like hitting myself in the forehead with a hammer), I’m just going to let it out here and hope that it reaches someone else who needs to hear it today.

First, her Facebook post this morning, exactly as it was written, with all the missing punctuation that bugs the snot out of me:

Can everyone just sit back and enjoy a good burger today
I mean really y’all grew up celebrating today by having cookouts and get togethers

All of a sudden everyone is so woke

Get over the day and eat a burger or a burnt hot dog damn”

“Get over the day”??? This statement is coming from a grown woman (of color) with grown children. I’m really friends with her mother, but she and I are closer in age. I don’t know if she was actually dropped on her head as a child, but her mother frequently talked about her as if she had. Like her mother, she is very arrogant in her wrongness, and she does not budge from it, even when people like me bring her face to face with logic and common sense.

I’m going to keep this rant very short.

First of all, I will never apologize for reclaiming the history of my people in this country. Social media and the internet has made it (almost) impossible to remain as ignorant of our own story as we were 60+ years ago. We celebrated Independence Day as if it was our day to celebrate because the majority of us didn’t know any better. The first time I saw the word “Juneteenth” was in a book–yes, a book–of African-American Clipart. And there was no one in any of my social circles who could tell me what it meant. I found that out in the last 7 years of my being on social media.

Now that I know what I know, I will not “get over the day” just so other people can feel better about their willful ignorance. I promise I won’t preach at your cookout, but you’re not going to make me out to be a villain because my head is on straight. Don’t shame your own people for knowing better and not wanting to go back to ignorant living.

Second and lastly, if America wants me to celebrate its birthday, then America needs to treat its non-white citizens better. Stop force-feeding us patriotism and be the “land of the free” that you say you are. Be true, as Dr. King put it, “to what you put on paper”. Stop hunting Black men and women! Stop caging Brown babies! Stop policing women’s bodies! Stop giving power to racists!

Fix THAT before coming at me about celebrating America. I’ll celebrate America when America gives me a reason to celebrate.

Until then, don’t expect me at the cookout or the fireworks display.

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