To borrow Frederick Douglass’ question: “What is July 4th to me?” For Douglass, of course, his experience was as a black man who lived when most people who looked like him in the United States were still slaves to white men – owned as property and degraded as less than human. What celebration of freedom could there be?
As a white man – educated, middle class, heterosexual, Christian – why would I not “celebrate our freedoms” on this day? In my experience for the last five decades, July 4th has been more a Christian Nationalist day than a truly patriotic day where as a nation we are committed to every person enjoying the same freedoms I have always had. So few people in my “world” have acknowledged how many people do not have those freedoms, let alone committed themselves to working toward “liberty and justice for all” people regardless of color, ethnicity, gender identity, religion, language, culture.
Some people have called for an “interdependence” day, recognizing that true freedom is more than independence. We are not truly free until all are free, as many have said, including Martin Luther King, Jr. and Emma Lazarus. And we cannot all be free until we stop celebrating our independence and start working toward greater interdependence. So I will celebrate July 4th as an “interdependence day” and commit myself to work for a time when all people share at least the freedoms I enjoy.