“Without the events that shaped our nation, we would not be where we are today.”
It seems like with each passing year, more of those belonging to minority communities take the opportunity to ascend onto their social media pulpit and presume to tell minorities and “white folk” how Independence Day should be viewed and observed (or not observed).
Each year, I quietly roll my eyes and take a bite out of my grilled hotdog as I await the fireworks celebration. I understand that America has a dark past. What country or nation doesn’t have some skeletons in the closet? The United States of America is no different. No better, no worse. Does racism exist? Yes. Do police sometimes gun down those they shouldn’t? Absolutely. Will I play a victim to the color of my skin? Negative!
I am an enrolled member of the Northern Cheyenne Nation, located in the picturesque state of Montana. I was raised on the reservation, where each year an annual 4th of July powwow celebration is held. I know my heritage, my culture, and the history of such. As a tribal member, it was always my understanding that our 4th of July observance had evolved into the celebration of historical victories my tribe carried out—ahem, Custer anyone?—and honoring military veterans of my tribe, who are seen as modern day warriors. Yes, those belonging to the United States Armed Forces are celebrated within my tribe and revered. I am very much aware of the genocide that was carried out against Native Americans. I am also aware of the fact that slavery existed in America. I view both as a sad time in our nation’s history.
That being said, do not presume to tell me that I shouldn’t celebrate Independence Day because I am of a certain ethnic background. I respect your right to not celebrate, as you should respect my right to celebrate. My homeland has become ravaged by drugs, alcoholism, and staggering unemployment rates. I am not a victim of circumstance, and I will never understand a point of view that expects an entire nation to stew in self-inflicted anger. People will believe what they will and celebrate what they will. Not a single person is in government sanctioned chains today. No one is being forced to flee their homeland in America. Without the events that shaped our nation, we would not be where we are today.
Independence Day means a lot of things to different members of society. It shouldn’t mean shaming those who choose to have a positive outlook on the holiday. I am not ashamed to have served my country as a minority. I choose to reflect on what makes America so great. I will continue to observe the holiday with pride in self and country. I have no room for resentment and self-pity in a world where genocide and slavery continues in third world countries and beyond. I feel safe in my country and it will always be home to me. In closing, I would like to wish everyone a Happy 4th of July!