This year I will be and has me reflecting. Being a citizen of this nation and having been born within her borders has allowed me privileges that I would not have had elsewhere. However, the last couple years have been rough being here and it often feels like I’m in a toxic relationship with my nation so this July fourth James Baldwin’s words are the first thing to pop into my head:
“I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually”
Today this nation is celebrating independence. Land of the free ….. yet we have people locked up for doing what our people have been doing since the dawn of time. Migrating.
People migrating because of US involvement in Central America that has caused unrest coming to the US border, following asylum protocol asking to be taken in, and we turn around and be placed in hostile conditions and racism on top of the trauma they underwent in their own lands. As a child, I learned that I belonged to a nation made up of immigrants. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” was the America I learned about and this is not what I see.
We learn as children that we have rights here and that we all are created equal. Yet, we see that is not really the case, that this nation was built by stealing land from the native people, that its economic prosperity was due to the enslavement of African peoples, that its borders were closed off when Asian people began immigrating.
Yes, Independence Day is typically the day we stop all our criticisms and turn a blind eye, celebrating how amazing and wonderful this nation is like we would for a bad boyfriend.
However, I’m over toxic relationships, and in 2018 I think it’s a perfect day to remember that because we love this land and all of the freedom it is supposed to be upheld to why we need to stop enabling her but instead hold this nation and its government accountable.
I had started my blog in 2016, I started it shortly after the election and I was shook. Any inkling that I did not belong in this nation was confirmed on November 7th, 2016.
I had never felt like I was truly from here. But is anyone? We are all foreigners of this land and at the same time isn’t migration the most natural of all human behaviors. Isn’t this what all our ancestors have been doing? Isn’t this the most visible in the United States where it’s citizens are from all over the world and include the native people of this land.
Yes, I love this nation my state of New York, yes it’s given me so much opportunity and access to move up in socioeconomic status that many other places would not be possible. I have the freedom to speak up and be vocal about what I love, it is also the nation that exposed me to a variety of different cultures and people all living within these borders that incited in me a yearning to one day see the lands we see.
But as I realize many of my struggles were unnecessary and unjust because of my ethnicity, background, and poverty growing up. It makes me critique and want to hold my nation more accountable. I was born on the “right” side of the border. I easily almost wasn’t. I could be one of the many Guatemalans currently held up in detention centers. I could not have the life I do know.
And yes privilege of citizenship is something I have and makes me uncomfortable at times I lean into that discomfort I realize, it’s the system I’m currently uncomfortable with that attempts to restrict something that has been the way of life for all the Americans since the dawn of time. So much so that genetics can’t even distinguish many of our indigenous roots because our ancestors came to these lands and inhabited across all of America’s.
Travel to me does not just include for luxury, it is the journey that we take and how we move in this world. Including migration of immigration just because we don’t get on a plane and set off to indulge does not mean we have not traveled.
For me, it is generations of travel throughout a multitude of continents that make me up. So I am stuck in this complicated relationship status with a nation that has provided me with so much yet has caused so much hardship because of my family’s ethnicity and continues to exclude my community.
To be honest, I am going to celebrate probably being basic AF with barbecue, beer, and fireworks. However, in gratitude that I will celebrate with friends. Friends who are all products of migration that we would never have been brought together was it not for the promise this land entices many with a dream of a better future that they strive for the generation that will come after them.
As problematic as our nation can be, as a woman I can easily drive to my friends in the car I own and enjoy being a hot mess with a friend in public without much repercussion (of course being a hot responsible mess). Small things that we take for granted. Yes, in many other western developed nations we see as superior freedoms to the US, however, these are usually only afforded to the white people of that nation not to the immigration and often child of immigrants whereas in the US we do have the advantages of enjoying and mobility. For these small things, I am grateful,
The United States of America we know today has a dark history and past, it is radicalized, and as much as I love this nation and the opportunity it has given me it is not without fault. It is not equal for all, and we cannot have that equality until we face its past trauma. Healing from past trauma is not easy, it’s rough, so much comes out to light and since 2016 it feels like this is what has been happening
All the ugly is being exposed, everything is coming to the surface, but it can’t hide anymore and must not let it. If we aspire to be land of the free, we must continue to be vocal. I am starting by not “toning it down” and using whatever voice I have to continue to push forward conversations that will allow us all to see each other’s perspectives.
So this July 4th, I love you the USA but a reminder that we did not cross the border. The border crossed us …. (I mean but also what are borders besides an imagined construct —- I’ll leave that for another discussion.) 😽
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