July 4 has been designated a national holiday. Most think of it as a day for barbecue, fireworks, and partying. But it officially exists to commemorate the day the United States laid down its claim to be a free and independent nation. This step of independence, represented in the form of our “Declaration of Independence,” feels real to some, particularly immigrants who have found respite from authoritarian or other abusive regimes and experiences. Yet, to many trapped in what people feel and know as “Systemic Racism” and other subtle or not-so-subtle forms of oppression, this celebration of freedom is unwarranted. If not everyone experience the lofty ideal found in our Declaration of Independence, for me the day calls for a different type of spark.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. in a way that showers …

Declaration of Independence

It’s not that I want to dwell in the past or on what is wrong in our country. But I find that listening to the stark and difficult words representing past and future voices is the better fireworks for me. Its a tough truth – a roughness that ignites action in my sphere of influence – to so something so that not just the privileged enjoy the lofty ideals we love to celebrate.

What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is a constant victim…

Frederick Douglas, 1852