This 4th of July thousands of separated children, teens women and men have been dispersed into states, cities and rural locations. They are undocumented children, mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers wives, fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers, friends, husbands. They are undocumented, legal asylum seekers and seeking to immigrate. They have been forced and shuttled into another Colored People’s Diaspora on both sides of the Mexican border.
Thousands of refugees are crushed inside cages and warehouses, left out in the elements along our southern borders and scattered over Louisiana and Mississippi in private secreted prisons.
An unknown number of children and teens have been separated from their parents, declared unaccompanied minors when, in fact, they were accompanied, and were denied passage to relatives and sponsors who would care for them, feed them, cloth them, provide medical care, recreation, education, human touch, welcoming arms, smiles, and soothing words and deeds for shattered hearts. We don’t know how many. We don’t know all of the places they are being imprisoned or placed in foster care or where or adopted or trafficked for al we know. When mayors and legislators, and others, demand to see them, they are turned away or they are hidden away. Food and hygiene supplies are shown to visitors but not given to the children, women and men.
This 4thof July news reports tell of shocking and heartbreaking atrocities being committed in our names. No access to due process or healthy sustainable food or water or hygiene or medical attention or environments to rest and sleep or education or recreation or freedom of movement or lawful and humane treatment or lawful oversight.
Women who are already citizens are facing numerous laws that take control of their bodies, force them to carry unwanted pregnancies or submit to abusive invasions before receiving constitutionally protected health care services.
I cannot celebrate America’s freedom and birth when tens of thousands of people are treated inhumanely for the sole purpose of assuring white people in America that white dominance and privilege will remain the intention of the law and the order of our nation, and to secure the second illegitimate election of the current president
I woke up on the 4th this year thinking about what I wanted for the day. I want freedom, I said to myself. I want to hold my nation’s truths “to be self-evident, that all men, and women, are created equal, that they, we, are endowed by their, our, Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
I do and will “continually help to…” form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare..”
That’s what I want, I said to myself.
Although my heart swells to all of the patriotic songs and hymns of every branch of military service, I, and my peoples, have never experienced the full freedoms of U. S. citizens. And, while I insist, fight, vote, talk, march and write about equality, justice, the pursuit of liberty and happiness, inalienable rights, freedom and justice for all, I still live in fear for all people of color, all immigrants of color, LGBTQ people, all women and all of our children.
I decided to listen to Nina Simone, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDqmJEWOJRI as she sings out my longing for authentic, non-delayed, non-gerrymandered freedoms for women’s rights to control our own bodies, receive equal pay, receive equal protections from harassers, abusers, and rapists without statutes of limitation, to experience freedom from racial and police profiling, and abuse, free from being murdered by domestic terrorists, given bolder and bolder permissions by the head of our nation, or agents of the state.
After I listened to Nina Simone,I decided I needed to do more to keep myself in authentic black 4thof July celebration spirit. I listened to Alice Walker read Sojourner Truth’s 1851 speech at a Women’s Rights Conference, where she asked ‘aint I a woman?’. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDqmJEWOJRI, to James Earl reading Frederick Douglas’s speech, What to the Slave is the 4th of July. https://youtu.be/8tTkHJWxfP0. I was uplifted by the youth poet laureate, Amanda Gorman, accompanied by The Boston Pops Orchestra https://boston.cbslocal.com/2019/07/03/youth-poet-laureate-amanda-gorman-independence-day-poem-boston-pops/
I’m grateful for the relative privileges and full obligations I have as a citizen of the United States of America. I renew my pledge to be an informed, fully participating, fully empowered citizen and to reverse the policies and practices of those who have engineered our beloved nation into a divided states of America. I will remain true to myself and all of the peoples of my native lands. I will act up, sit in, march, resist, campaign, vote, oversee, and hold accountable my nation to grow into a fully functioning equal, just, multicultural, multi-ethnic, democratic republic, and yes, celebrate our every small and large victory.
While food, fireworks, dancing, parades, marching bands, soaring symphonies of patriotic music, grilling, red white and blue bunting and every kind of summer fun is the traditional celebration for most, it remains an elusive dream, sometimes nightmare, for many. As a citizen of this country, I work toward the day when we are truly the land of the free and the home of the brave. I want to celebrate this day with abandon and joy. I want our children’s belonging and freedoms to be secure. I want to celebrate like the child in the Frank McKenna photograph above. Today, sadly, is not that day.
Andrea R. Canaan–July 4, 2019–San Francisco, California