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Op-Ed: How Can We Celebrate Independence Day When Our Liberties Are Being Stripped Away?

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Large mass gathering of protestors at Black Lives Matter protest, with many holding signs. Photo is in black and white.

As the Star-Spangled Banner is sung today across the nation celebrating the independence of this country, we cannot in good conscience celebrate Independence Day when millions on this stolen land are constantly having their independence violated.

Just two weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court stripped the right of women and people with uteruses to have bodily autonomy and the right to choose. As of 5 days ago, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to violate the sovereignty of Native Americans and ruled to expand state power over Native land in Oklahoma. Human rights violations continue to happen at the hands of ICE, and anti-immigrant rhetoric has only become stronger over the years. Anti-gay and transphobic legislation continues to pass, putting queer lives in danger. Migrant workers are exploited and made to work in the harshest conditions for below minimum wage. Black men and women fear for their lives when they’re pulled over for a traffic stop. We cannot even go out to a parade on the 4th of July, the supermarket, church, or school without the fear that we’ll be gunned down, simply because guns have more rights than human life in this country. It isn’t lost on us that this is just the tip of the iceberg, as Supreme Court justices are considering taking away even more rights that we’ve fought so hard to have

So how can we celebrate independence today when we’re shackled by patriarchy, racism, and violence? This so-called “land of the free” cannot actually be free until every BIPOC, every woman, every queer person, every Native person, every immigrant, and every single marginalized person is free and safe. For millions to chant, “O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave, O’er the land of the free, And the home of the brave,” today is tone-deaf to the reality that we as a nation live. 

We as a nation have much work to do to really call ourselves the land of the free. Today is a lie made to ignore the fact marginalized people suffer daily in this country. But we will not be complacent and we refuse to accept this as our norm. We will continue to stand strong en la lucha, and as we fight each battle, we will fight it for everyone.

Because until everyone in this country is free, then that will be the true Independence Day. 

Priscilla Castro looking to the left as she sits in front of a brown panel wall. She has long black hair with curtain bangs, and is wearing a black tank top with a scarf on her neck.

Priscilla Castro is #WeAllGrow’s Director of Digital Content & Partnerships. You can learn more about her at kodeofkondukt.com and follow her at @kodeofkondukt.

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