July 4th, Independence Day for Americans, is rough for me this year. Many people are starting to celebrate— going to the beach, seeing friends, backyard parties, etc. but I don’t really see the point. Let me tell you why.
We are still in a global pandemic. Just because people are tired of being cooped up and are over the virus does NOT mean the virus is over. Even if people are going out because of restrictions being lifted, many are choosing not to wear masks. As someone who lives with a person who is high-risk, please, wear a mask. It may not be for your safety but have some human decency and protect others. I know if it was me, I would feel awful for being the reason that someone died because a mask made me feel a little uncomfortable.
In New Jersey, there have been about 15,000 cases. In the United States, about 132,000 and rising. The worse part, some people don’t care, and many of them are in powerful places where they can change the rules to benefit their ideals. They just want places to reopen, the economy to change— as if that will make the virus go away.
How can people decide to have parties and celebrate when people are dying from a virus that could KILL you or your family? It is literally a matter of life and death, and people think now is the time to party.
Another reason I don’t want to celebrate is because this country is a mess. ICE still has people, both adults and children, in cages at internment centers. Many of these people came for help, and now life is being made worse for them due to people wanting to have control over others. Many of these people are no danger. They are just people that want a better life for themselves and their children.
These immigrants are purposefully being hurt and brutalized, living through inhumane treatment, and are often denied medical care. They are DYING in these camps. Maybe they came here illegally, but many don’t have much of a choice. At the end of the day, they just want to be alive. They leave their country to escape violence, abuse, poverty, and injustice, among other things. How can I celebrate a country that is hurting people in need?
Despite it dying down on social media, I will still mention it— the Black Lives Matter movement. Maybe people think that it was just a fad or a phase, but it’s not getting as much attention on social media as it was a few weeks ago. But the thing is, it’s not a phase. Black people are still being hurt, they are still being brutalized but others and the police. Racism still exists, even if it’s not being posted about on social media. Why would I want to celebrate a country that doesn’t care about, and sometimes celebrates, the killing of black people?
It would take so long to list all of the names of black people shot by police in 2020, but just know- at least 105 have been killed in 2020, and since 2017: at least 772. They are not statistics; they were and are people. They didn’t deserve to die, whether they committed a crime or not.
On another note about racism, the Fourth of July is often seen as a joyous holiday for many, but for African Americans, many are brought back to painful reminders of their ancestors. Of many that were slaves, others that were promised freedom if they fought in a war and either weren’t freed after or were killed in actions, family members that were attacked or lynched, the list goes on. Many like to try to forget this part of history, but it is still there, despite it being horrible.
Indigenous people are also under attack. Many live in poverty driven places where there are not many chances to better life for themselves. Good education is difficult to come by, the government views them as less-than, crimes are being committed against them almost daily, and many go missing and/or are killed. Let’s not even start on the cultural appropriation of their people.
Now, racism is not the only reason I don’t want to celebrate. It’s also because discrimination against LGBTQA+ people, homophobia, transphobia, etc. exists. Transgender healthcare protections were recently rolled back. People still attack people for being LGBTQA+ both verbally and physically. About 27 trans and gender-nonconforming people were killed in 2019 and in 2020— at least 18, many of the people killed were transgender black women.
Dustin Parker, 25
Neulisa Luciano Ruiz (no age listed)
Yampi Méndez Arocho, 19
Monika Diamond, 34
Johanna Metzger, (no age listed)
Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos, 32.
Layla Pelaez Sánchez, 21
Penélope Díaz Ramírez, (no age listed)
Nina Pop, (no age listed)
Helle Jae O’Regan, 20
Tony McDade, (no age listed)
Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, (no age listed)
Riah Milton, 25
Jayne Thompson, 33
Selena Reyes-Hernandez, 37
Brayla Stone, 17
Merci Mack, 22
Say their names. These are only the ones killed in 2020. They are not statistics. They were people. They were taken away from us, stolen by hateful people. Don’t let their memory fade away.
I don’t even want to get started on the fact that our president is a misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, racist, bigoted, and alleged rapist. So, I’ll just leave it at that.
There are so many other injustices in this country that make me not want to celebrate. But these are the main ones.
Instead of celebrating and posting party pictures, post about Black Lives Matter or other “social justice” movements, take the money you would use for parties and use it to donate to charities that will help America, and/or educate yourself by watching documentaries or reading about different social justice movements in America. Most of all, think about how we can make America a better place for EVERYONE and how we can change the injustices that are taking place.
And please, if you feel that you must go to a social gathering or party, at least wear a mask.
Stay safe and as always—
Have a rosy day,
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“AILA – Deaths at Adult Detention Centers.” American Immigration Lawyers Association, 26 May 2020, www.aila.org/infonet/deaths-at-adult-detention-centers.
Department, Published by Statista Research, and Jul 1. “People Shot to Death by U.S. Police, by Race 2020.” Statista, 1 July 2020, www.statista.com/statistics/585152/people-shot-to-death-by-us-police-by-race/.
Gray, Emma. “Donald Trump And The Making Of A Predatory President.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 24 Oct. 2019, www.huffpost.com/entry/all-the-presidents-women-barry-levine-monique-el-faizy_n_5db064d3e4b0048fac31b5a0.
Human Rights Campaign. “Violence Against the Transgender Community in 2020.” Human Rights Campaign, www.hrc.org/resources/violence-against-the-trans-and-gender-non-conforming-community-in-2020.
Peltz, Jennifer. “Trump Lawyers Ask for Halt in Suit from Woman Alleging Rape.” ABC News, ABC News Network, 4 Mar. 2020, abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/trump-lawyers-halt-suit-woman-alleging-rape-69391310.
Rappleye, Hannah, and Lisa Riordan Seville. “24 Immigrants Have Died in ICE Custody during the Trump Administration.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 10 June 2019, www.nbcnews.com/politics/immigration/24-immigrants-have-died-ice-custody-during-trump-administration-n1015291.
“What to the African American Is the Fourth of July?” Washington Post, 3 July 2020, www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/03/what-african-american-is-fourth-july-reflections-race-racism-america/?arc404=true.