Reflections on 4 July 2020

American Independence Day has always been my favorite holiday of the year. Why exactly, I’m not entirely sure.

Thumbing through my memories of the day I recall large family gatherings at my grandparents house where there was inevitably an American flag cake complete with strawberries and blueberries for the Stars and Stripes. I remember wincing with enjoyment as a child during firework displays at Dorton Arena; joining get-togethers hosted by friends who lived at the top of Potrero Hill with excellent views of the fireworks in San Francisco. Years where the fireworks were launched but could only be seen as muddled colors in the low San Francisco fog. Most recently, while living in London, I would drag my British husband to Shake Shack for American food, to celebrate my country rejecting his country 240+ years ago.

But this year was different.

Aside from my traditional expat cheeseburger now made at home due to social distancing, I didn’t mark the day. The week went by slowly, almost like I was groping in a fog.

I felt depressed. It felt appropriate.

2020 has ushered in many things but the most seminal for me has been ripping the blinders from my eyes to see just how unfree so many Americans are – and until we are all free, none of us are free.

While feeling this Independence Day discomfort, I ran across where my featured image originates. This Independence Day should feel tainted. In continuing to do our work to become anti-racist as a culture, remembering that our day of liberation came 87 years before the abolition of slavery, and 192 years before the end of Jim Crow. If we aren’t willing to acknowledge and celebrate Juneteenth, then I’m not sure if we deserve to celebrate the 4th of July.

So how did I celebrate this year? I bought books by Black authors, essayists, activists, and novelists. Here’s the list, I encourage you to check them out, too.

, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

, Miranda Kaufmann

, Ibram X. Kendi

, Remi Eddo-Lodge

, Ta-Nehisi Coates

, Layla F, Saad

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