Our 4th was pretty uneventful. We drove about 15 miles out of the city to watch a large scale fireworks show at 10 pm; we sat in the back of my little crossover, at some food from the restaurant who’s parking lot we were parked in and simply enjoyed the splendor of the cool breeze and food and family and love. It was simple and perfect. Not everything has to be over the top and planned out.
Then, as I tend to do, I started to really dig into my thoughts of the injustices of this day to the tribes/families indigenous to this country. They are here, vastly under-represented, struggling to keep their culture alive thanks to a multitude of things, one of the very troubling “things” being the United States government.
I am not an activist. I am not an expert on native tribes and culture or their struggles but I am connected with them so spiritually in the sense that I come from a family indigenous to the island now known as Puerto Rico (Taino) and I know how culture can be erased by colonizers in their (mostly successful) attempts to establish culture dominance. I know what it is like to feel marginalized as a black woman in the United States, my home. I feel a strong connection to other groups of colonized groups of people. That day, on July 4th, I felt that connection to the natives of this land much deeper.
On that day, I saw a tweet from The Lakota People Law Project that said, “Reminder: most of the people (referring to the holding conditions of people migrating north from South America) in cages are Indigenous to the Americas. Many of the people with the keys are immigrants.” That was a hard thing to swallow and it sat in my stomach all day and made me emotional while my husband and I stood, watching our kiddos watch the fireworks in awe and amazement.
Then, I saw another tweet (gotta love social media) from an Indigenous man that I follow that said, “no one is illegal on stolen land except for the ones who stole it.” The perspective of the indigenous peoples of this land, North America, is something to seriously be considered. The history is heartbreaking, imagine living in your home right now, that you built, paid for, maintained, and then someone you don’t know comes and says, this property actually belongs to me, you and your entire family can live in the guest room together; the rest of the home is ours. You’re also not allowed to use anything in the home anymore. And you live that way and every year this new family who has taken over your home have a house warming party to celebrate “their home” but you still live there….and the house was yours to begin with. WHAT?!
That is such a watered down, basic version of what happened to the original people but take a moment to think about what they must feel like watching Americans celebrate the way we do as the “land of the free” on colonized land.
That is where my mind went on July 4th. Yes, it’s dark and deep and not celebratory like you might want that day to be but my mind turns to these things more often as I get older; partially, because I have kids and I worry for their future and partially because I have gotten wiser and less self-absorbed as I have gotten older.
In order to be some of the good that I want to see in the world, I donated to the following charities that evening. July 4th:
These are organizations with amazing missions that focus on the equity of Indigenous peoples on this land that was taken from them. I urge you to take a moment and broaden and sharpen your opinions on this issue.
Until Next Time!