Independence day was this week.
Two more black men were killed by police officers for no reason.
In the aftermath there were peaceful protests around the country because of even more senseless killings. At one of these protests in Dallas a sniper shot at and killed 5 police officers and injured 7 more. The Dallas police department was actually trying its best to protect and be an ally to the Black Lives Matter movement and its protesters. We’ve seen these themes before.
Yet again police brutality has come to the fore. Not all police officers are bad. Many do great work and genuinely want the best for their community. But too many police departments around the country have allowed racism into their department and rarely (if ever) are police officers held accountable for their actions when they murder the citizens they are sworn to protect. In spite of all this, you still have people responding to the Black Lives Matter movement by saying “All Lives Matter.” You don’t need me to explain why that’s problematic.
Yet again people are dying because apparently the right to carry a gun is more important than the right to live in this country. The NRA continues to be one of the most well organized institutions in the country yet both the American government and its people are quick to call other countries savage.
As a first generation Egyptian-American and a Muslim I’ve always felt somewhat at home here but I’ve always felt and heard the whispers that I don’t belong. These whispers have only grown louder in recent years as I’ve become more aware of how we are portrayed in the media. They’ve grown louder still as I’ve learned about how the United States has held itself up as a beacon of hope yet has almost single handedly destroyed the Middle East and everywhere else they’re involved for personal gain. The whispers have now turned into deafening screams as I’ve seen a presidential candidate successfully build much of his platform on racism and Islamophobia.
These reasons have always made the 4th of July a weird time for me. All around me people loudly, proudly, and boldly proclaim that the United States is the greatest country that ever was and I’m always just sitting there wondering what I’m missing. When people of color criticize the US they often hear “just go back to your own country” as a response which I’ve always thought that was hilarious considering US had a hand in ruining the places we’re all from in the first place!
Don’t get me wrong the United States does do a great deal of things very well. I’m also very cognizant and appreciative of the incredible wealth of opportunities I’ve had as the result of growing up here.Even if it was true that the US is the greatest country ever nothing productive can come from blind patriotism. Shouldn’t Independence Day (even moreso than every other day) be a time where people collectively take stock of where the country is as a whole and whether or not its made progress? Isn’t that the only way to move forward? But still…
Don’t tell me that America is the greatest country ever.
Passively accepting that statement also makes you part of the problem. The pedestal that the US continually puts itself up is not only undeserved but it’s led to the belief that the country’s international actions and neocolonialism is justified.If you truly want this country to be great then you probably should never utter those words again. If you love the country as you so proudly proclaim then fix it. Acknowledge its strengths while also working to overcome its challenges.