Fourth of July weekend 2020 has come and gone. It was a very somber day for me this year. Generally I don’t do a lot for holidays but they usually put me in a good mood. This year Fourth of July was depressing. Independence DAy was melancholy due to the state of America and the uncertainty of our future. Our nation’s leadership is corrupt, there is economic uncertainty, a plague is filling hospital emergency rooms to capacity and racial tensions has emotions on edge.
This Fourth of July, like in past years many Black people made social media posts letting the world know that they have no plans to observe the holiday due to past and present racial oppression. That’s their choice and I appreciate and understand their opinions but I see things differently. I’m a proud Black American and I’m proud of our history in this country.
I have two Black parents and four Black grandparents. I studied my family tree on both sides and I can document that we’ve been in this country for at least four generations. My identity is not tied to any other race or country. I’m Black American and completely comfortable with that and I take pride in my place in human history.
I have no desire to think of myself as a Moor, or a Hebrew Israelite nor do I believe that Black people are indigenous to North America. All of those are theories that Black people that want to disassociate themselves from the history of Africans in America share on You Tube. I believe that those people are ashamed of their heritage and envy White people.
I am one generation removed from a southern sharecropping family. My mother is one of nine children from rural Arkansas. She grew up in poverty and began working as a young child picking cotton with her family. They were paid for their labor by the pound. The cotton they picked was weighed and they were paid mere cents by the pound.
My mom left Arkansas after high school moved to Detroit, Michigan got a job at the phone company and married my dad who was an auto worker from Detroit. His parents were from Mississippi. The too left the agricultural South for the Industrial North for greater opportunities and freedom.
My folks divorced when I was young but I had a happy childhood where my needs and many of my wants were met. I went to college after high school graduated and later on earned two more degrees. After many years I got my foot in the door of the career I wanted. Both of my parents are enjoying retirement.
My family’s story is one of hard work and achievement. I’m proud of it. I’m glad to be an American. A high price was paid for me to have a stake in this country and I’m grateful to everyone that came before me that gave me the opportunities that I have today as a Black woman in America.
America has the biggest economy in the world and to be born here is a blessing. There is always an opportunity to make money in America. It may not be a lot and life is hard everywhere but survival is not precarious here as it is in other nations.
I’m a working class woman but I have a nice car, diamond rings, designer purses, a closet full of clothes and shoes and a full refrigerator. I’ve been on great vacations and have dined in hip restaurants. Life is pretty good and I won’t complain.
America has a fascinating history and is a beautiful country. There is a lot to do, see and experience. Many think it’s unhealthy but I enjoy the go getter culture. I also enjoy America’s materialistic, flashy nature. It’s what makes our economy great.
But America is far from perfect. There are glaring injustices. Overall this is indeed a racist, White supremacist country. I’ve been overlooked for opportunities and discriminated against because of my race. The saying that Black people have to work twice as hard to get half as far is true and I’ve been in the American workforce long enough that I’ve seen that principle in action.
I’m a tax paying, law abiding, citizen but I do not see police as friends or protectors. I prefer to keep them as far away from me as possible because an interaction with them could be unpredictable. I could end up hurt or dead. A simple misunderstanding can be fatal for Black people and their actions would most likely be excused by other Americans and the court system.
But I believe that Black Americans need to stand up for what is right in this country like we have done historically. We need to continue to hold the United States to its promise of liberty and justice for all. We need to continue to support the Constitution and Bill of Rights as citizens that have a right to pursue happiness. Our ancestor pour blood, sweat and tears into this country. Stand up for what is yours and remember that no one has given us anything. This is my country too.
America’s has a lot of great things going for it. But we have a lot of work to do in order to create a more perfect union to be enjoyed by all. I’m not going to give up on what America could be because of what it currently is and was.