Editorial: Worn Out on the Fourth of July

On July 4th, I tried my hardest to stay away from Facebook. I knew what was going to be plastered all over my timeline and I did not want to see it. I knew there would be photos of people at cookouts, all dressed in U.S. flag clothing. There would be videos of fireworks. And there would be graphics, memes, and long, rambling statements about how the U.S.A. was the greatest country in the world.

I cannot face that insurmountable pile of short-sighted, ignorant, delusional, and outright racist bullshit.

A lot of posts I came upon after needing to look at Facebook mentioned Colin Kapernick and how he influenced Nike to stop production and advertisement of a new shoe featuring a U.S. flag design originally made by Betsy Ross. One in particular showed the soldiers at Iwa Jima planting a flag and it said, “Aren’t you glad they didn’t #TakeAKnee?” The level of ignorance was expected, to be honest. Kapernick disagreed with using a flag design that was used when Americans owned slaves. This is a reasonable request of a black man who represents the company.

Yet white people still think his kneeling is about the flag or the military or the National Anthem. It’s about systemic racism and the history this country has with people of color. Whenever I see someone post things like this, I immediately understand one thing about them: they’re level of patriotism is blinding them to the fact that our country is fucked up and any attention brought to that fact makes them very uncomfortable at best and violent and hateful at worst.

I cannot bring myself to celebrate my country anymore. I’m too aware of all the hateful people that live here, the policies our government enacts to continue to oppress those who are not rich, white, or straight, and the ridiculous levels of willful ignorance that pervades every city and town in America. I am always at a level of anxiety and anger towards some of the people that live near me. I cannot stand the fucking racist, sexist, incomprehensibly stupid waste of human DNA that sits in the Oval Office and everything he says makes my blood boil and my skin crawl.

As far as I’m concerned, we should halt all Independence Day celebrations until everyone in this country is treated equally, everyone has access to healthcare and higher education, and people of color and LGBTQ people aren’t getting killed simply for existing. But I know the people who wash their brains with a red, white, and blue flag washcloth and think soldiers are sacred will flip their shit and claim to be oppressed. Oh, you’re oppressed because you can’t shoot off fireworks or eat hot dogs and drink shitty American beer on the 4th? Call me when your kids are gunned down at school or you’re arrested because of the color of your skin. When you’re dragged behind a truck until you’re dead because you love a certain person or get raped simply for being around and wearing clothes that show a little skin, then you can complain.

Until then, use that mouth you like to use degrading and insulting people you deem below you to release those families in concentration camps at the border. Use it to stop black kids from getting shot by racist cops. Use it to make sure everyone’s daughter, not just yours, is treated with respect and dignity like a human being. Use it to support people in loving whomever they choose to love.

If you can’t bring yourself to do any of those things, do everyone a favor and keep your mouth shut, your Facebook profile clear of bullshit, and get out of the way of progress.