This past Fourth of July, I painted my nails red and wore a Rosie the Riveter style blue bandana with a red stripped shirt. I represented the holiday as I have in years before, but something about this one felt different to me. There was a sense of sadness looming over it and I couldn't help but feel pain as I recited the Hamilton lyrics in my head over and over again: "But we’ll never be truly free, until those in bondage have the same rights as you and me." I kept thinking about our nation's history and where we are today. And you know what? There's a lot to take into account what's wrong with our country. Just take a look at Shaun King's article Here's why the United States is not the best country in the world.
Part of me didn't even want to celebrate Independence Day this year. It felt fake and phony to participate in a day that's primarily focused on BBQ's and songs about our nation's pride, when I was lacking any amount of pride in what this country currently represents. But that part of me that continuously wants to just curl up in a ball and ignore the news, she never wins in a fight. No. The one that wins is the woman in me that refuses to just give up and move to another country. She's the one that stands tall, tries to stay as informed as possible, continues to grow as an individual, treats people with respect, and strives to be the best possible version of herself for her and those around her. She's the one that looks at the young girls she works with and has hope for the future of our country. Yeah, sure, it sucks right now. It's sucked before. It might not get immediately better. We might not all see eye to eye. But there is hope. I have to believe in hope, no matter how naive that might sound coming from a middle class white cis feminist. I have to believe in it because I see the work that so many other people are doing. I see those boycotting the Fourth of July because we took this land away from Native Americans. I see people quoting Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr., and Michelle Obama. I see the Women's March planning a protest against the NRA. And I see people like my friend Ana Maria (who I think said it best on Facebook): "Resistance is patriotic, naming historic atrocities is freedom of speech, and protesting against injustice and a government that tries to harm us or others in the name of profit or personal benefit is the American Way."
My love for people like Ana Maria and my country runs deep, because I believe there are those of us working towards achieving greatness. It's tiring and grueling, and we have a long way to go, but if anything, hopefully we'll leave this place a little better for the generations to follow (that is if we don't all die from global warming, a nuclear bomb, or just a giant meteor). Sorry to be bleak. It is hard to drown out my pessimism completely! Best to summarize all of this with (yet again) more Hamilton lyrics: "You will come of age with our young nation. We’ll bleed and fight for you, we’ll make it right for you. If we lay a strong enough foundation, we’ll pass it on to you, we’ll give the world to you, and you’ll blow us all away. Someday, someday. Yeah, you’ll blow us all away. Someday, someday."
Thank you to those who keep fighting, protesting, marching, walking, writing, and speaking out. You are the ones who fill me with hope that someday we might just be a nation to be proud of.
Copyright © 2018 Christine Drew Benjamin | All Rights Reserved