When I think about the 4th of July, fireworks, BBQ’s and sunshine typically come to mind. I think about coming together on this holiday and spending time with loved ones. This year though, making plans to celebrate the 4th of July felt…different. Not only are we in the middle of a pandemic but leading up to this holiday, thousands of people across America have marched to protest the death of George Floyd, police brutality and systemic racism.
When the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, many Black American ancestors were still slaves. I question – what is this holiday truly about? Is it mainly for White people to celebrate their patriotism? How are Black, Brown and Indigenous people represented? How can I celebrate freedom and independence when this is not the case for everyone, even today in 2020?
Leading up to this 4th of July I thought about these questions frequently. I talked with my family to understand their thoughts on this while scrolling Instagram to try to share other peoples perspectives with them, and to learn more. Instead of having a big typical 4th of July celebration, Tommy and I decided to spend the day with our close friends. It didn’t quite feel right completely decking ourselves out in patriotic clothing so we opted not to. We went to an outdoor BBQ in the afternoon then later cruised around Lake Washington and caught the sunset on our friends’ boat.
Don’t get me wrong, we had a great time! We ate the most delicious slow cooked brisket and the classic BBQ foods (hot dogs and all the salads..fruit salad, mac salad, pasta salad). Tommy jumped into Lake Washington off of the Bow even though the water was frigid. We watched the sun go down behind the trees while seeing pockets of fireworks light up the sky above local docks. Also the moon has never been brighter. It was a truly beautiful night.
So I think about the 4th of July today, and yes – there is a lot to celebrate. But there is also a lot of work to do. I think it’s important that we keep listening and keep having the tough conversations with each other as we reflect on what this holiday is all about.