Independence Day

Independence Day

A few days ago it was America’s birthday, a time for drunken lust and banging migraines. People thought, "let’s get drunk and throw explosives while in developing countries real explosives are thrown at actual humans. And when they hit the sky, they rain back down on heads and necks, and kill those who are unlucky enough to be in its path. Let’s celebrate a day of independence in which millions of slaves and minorities were not yet independent and resigned to a life of oppression and pain . Oh lemme take another swig of beer because today we took away entire tribes’ homes, and wiped out Native American civilizations; but look at the fireworks! "

Look at how they sparkle in the sky. I don’t think they sparkle when mixed with mustard gas. I don’t think they glimmer with freedom as they blow chains from bound wrists . To have freedom is to flush money down the drain as you haul boxes of explosives that blow off fingers and toes like pieces of rock candy that sizzle and pop in your mouth. To have freedom is to celebrate a day that benefitted only a small portion of the American population.

My neighbor is in the ICU because “freedom” left him with third degree burns over 20% of his body. As I stood there, amongst the flames, 500 ft. from the light, someone laughed, “freedom is showing off as the government turns a blind eye”. Why must we drink and wear silly clothes with red, white, and blue, listening, watching the popopopop of slavery, of cruelty, 200 years of racist “freedom”. Cops can kill unarmed black youth but they ignore illegal fireworks that do more harm. I ponder that and feel blatant disgust at the system for its ignorance, its patriotism.

America is an amazingly progressive country, don’t get me wrong, but to throw explosives in the sky and celebrate only weeks after the country’s largest mass shooting, a hate crime, seems insensitive at best. On July 4th, we became a united nation, yet we have excluded everyone who isn’t white, who doesn’t speak English or conform to heterosexuality. We exclude women and those who are differently abled. We slur and shame and laugh at those who aren’t us. And how is that treated? With flags and fire and parades, because America is so very proud: unity means dehumanization down to a science.

In Chicago, the 4th of July is one of the bloodiest nights of the summer. Gunshots prelude and conclude fireworks. This year, a man was shot to death in the park. The cops found him hours later, cold, and dead. The people around him assumed it was America’s fire show, the one with lights, not bullets. For one night, the sound of the guns was drowned out. There were mixtures of danger, ruthless in their targets. We walk amongst the fearful and the feared. So what are we celebrating?

Article by Ruthie Zolla