today is the fourth of july. this has never been my favorite holiday, simply because it's not one that gives me a reason to shower people with unnecessary gifts. today was different though. usually, throughout this day i'd reflect on the military movies and documentaries i've watched, the biographies and autobiographies i've read, and the stories i've heard. i'd usually think about the almost decade-old dream i've had of joining the air force, and what it would mean getting to wear not just a uniform, but a nation.
this year made me reflect on that nation. a nation that i've dreamt of fighting for, but one that hasn't fought much for me. now, many will combat this with, "but what about the civil war?! america fought for you then! and what about all the rioting and the protests??" well, i guess that's exactly my point. i live in a nation that at it's very core struggles with the basics of humanity.
take equality. oxford dictionary defines equality as "the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities." the foundation of this nation tells us more clearly than anything that it has misdefined not just this term but this value. the roots of this nation have been nurtured by a belief that says, "yes, equality matters, but i determine how it is defined and who has the privilege of receiving such a blessing." let me tell you a story, and i'll tell it in first-person because that's naturally how it flows.
america took from our home people they deemed less than themselves. and i'm sorry (not sorry) but who is america to tell us africans that what we're doing in our home isn't quite as important as the dream they're trying to create? are we not even safe in our own homes from the risk of our lives being taken from us?
now we're in this new nation. no one loves us but everyone needs us, will pay much for us, even. they need us for our strength, we do have to do all our owners' heavy lifting, after all. but we can't be too strong or they'll feel threatened. and if they think you could be a threat, they'll treat you as such, and you may not live to tell of how they treated you.
tell me why i'm challenged even in saying this. that deep within me is a cry that warns against my honesty because those who speak against those who do wrong are the ones who will be punished? i guess when they wrote in "freedom of speech" they didn't intend on including all of us.
oh sorry, did the use of the word "us" throw you off? why? because i'm not a part of this country as much as you are? because my fathers' fingerprints aren't on every one of those bricks that built up every one of your buildings that built up every one of your empires that tore down every one of my ancestors? every time you step outside of your white-washed dwelling place, can you not smell the blood, sweat, and tears of the men and women who laid for you a foundation on which you built an economy that would set theirs on fire and drown out their prayers for rain? is the fact that you ripped me from my own country not enough, you have to exclude me from the option of gaining one here? your mission was oppression and depression. you oppressed my back with the burdens you weren't willing to bear yourself. you pushed me deeper into depression every time i had to be held back screaming as you sold my family away and cut out the one thing that reminded me that such a thing as love existed. you depressed my tongue, choked out my words i used as often as i could, telling the stories of those who couldn't tell their own.
now here i am, doing it now. i wouldn't even call this a story, this is just a template. just enter the name of any black man or any black woman because all our stories lead back to men and women whose stories and lives were ripped away from them like the pages of a diary. so i'll write in mine the names of the people that your history books will white-wash like its capital because hey, gotta keep the nightmares outta the american dream, right?
today, i'm expected to celebrate a nation's freedom, my nation's freedom. from what? from the realization that they aren't on the top of the world? that they can't be in control of everything and everyone? america i have news for you that won't go viral on twitter or instagram but that sure don't mean it's cancelled: you're not. you're not on top of the world, and you sure don't own the joint. you are not perfect. your dream is just a simulation and every time something happens that reveals this bitter truth you rip off your vr headset and write off the event as a glitch in the system. well honey, your system is overloaded, and it has been for centuries. because for longer than any of us may ever know you have been piling things up in your closet- people, events, nations, secrets- and eventually you won't be able to bear the weight of it all, and the truth will be revealed.
but america, don't run from it. the truth will set you free. more than any war, more than any union or peace treaty or democracy. truth will set you free and truth is a person. and america. much as you love to deny your need for anything or anyone, much as you've tried to prove to the entire world as much as to yourself that you're independent, you're not, because you can't be. america you can't be independent because you need God, you need Him! you were, after all, founded as "one nation under God," or did you change your mind about that and stop teaching it in your schools? and you wonder why you're falling apart...
america, you need God. just admit it, because you know everything you've tried to fill yourself with has only widened the gap you know nothing and no one will ever be able to fill but Him. please don't let this birthday be the threshold of another year you live in blind denial of truth, because regardless of the age of your "independence," you will not go any further until you are willing to acknowledge and admit that you don't have the whole truth, and you invite Him in.