This week, I’ve seen so many of my blogging colleagues creating some creative 4th of July crafts, red-white-and-blue drinks, along with festive outfits to wear to holiday celebrations. Some of my local blogging friends have also created lists of July 4th events in Atlanta and fun things to do with families.
I have not been as inclined to join in.
My heart is still coping with this terrible, hate-filled time our country is in the midst of.
How can I truly celebrate the United States birthday, when there are nine Charleston churchgoers who will never celebrate a birthday again? How can I be happy about fireworks when there’s been a sad trend of more Black churches in the South burning to the ground? I explain more about my feelings and how my family has deep ties to Charleston in this video.
How Can I Celebrate the 4th of July When My Heart Aches for America?
I’ve always been an unconventional patriotic person.
When I was a high school senior, I wrote an editorial in the newspaper about flag burning which was such a hot button issue in 1991 in the midst of the Gulf War. Instead of criticizing the flag burners, I hoped we would look closer at why they chose to express themselves that way. I admit, I was a bit idealistic when I was 17 years old.
Right after 9/11, I earned a Missouri Associated Press award for my coverage of how African Americans celebrate their patriotism differently. I also interviewed two sociologists who forecasted that all the ribbons, flags and banners we saw in 2001 would come down. People would move on to the next phase of their lives or the next trauma.
For me, the most immediate trauma has been the loss of nine lives in Mother Emmanuel Church.
I’ve shared several topics in the past about race: He’s Cute at 4, But Will You Call Him a Criminal When He’s 14? and I supported #HeIsNotASuspect led by Essence Magazine after the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
Then in April, I was featured on CNN and HLN for my video blog in support of the Baltimore Mom who aggressively removed her son from the riots.
As I finished writing this, I realized I am celebrating the 4th of July by expressing my freedom of speech. By saying I hurt. By saying there are moments in this country’s history that I’m not proud of. By saying there are so many things that happen that I struggle to understand when I’m 41, let alone find the words to explain them to our 5-year-old son.