I had something of an epiphany yesterday. We were changing the baby into a little baseball onsie after he peed on his pajamas and Andy was like, “that’s a perfect July 4th outfit!” and my first thought was a jumble of “I don’t want the baby to think that being an American means baseball and apple pie and all those things from the white dominant narrative of this country and he needs to learn the true history of all the peoples of this nation and I need to teach him because he probably won’t learn it in school and there is so much injustice and oppression in our country how can I embrace a celebration of this day with a clear conscience…” You get the point.
And I realized he is a baby, and July 4th can be fun. And I like baseball and apple pie. And the idea, value and cause of freedom, unadulterated by political agendas, is a beautiful, noble thing. Sometimes, I spend so much time trying to live with a critical consciousness of our history and fighting against the oppressive, dehumanizing and racist systems and structures that perpetuate injustice that I forget to be grateful for the good things.
As my husband reminded me, “There is still a lot to be grateful for and a lot to celebrate.” And he is right.
While the Declaration of Independence may not have been written with the intention of defending the freedoms, rights, liberties and happiness of all people (women and people of color to name a few) and the execution of these ideals continues to be more than a little flawed, the values themselves are powerful and worth standing for. It must be possible to have have a critical consciousness and a sense of gratitude. I am going work on this.
So, for the first time in recent memory, I embraced July 4th celebrations. I wore red, white and blue. I went to a pancake breakfast and a church party. Andy, baby and I rollerbladed and biked around our neighborhood. Andy wore some booty-tight pants with birds on them. We ate shrimp cocktail and chicken salad on tostadas while the baby danced to Mariachi music. We went to a bbq and drove home through a corridor of illegal fireworks exploding by the highway.
It was a really beautiful, liberating day.