Happy Fourth of Ju-Lie!

Family Stories


O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,

It’s Fourth of July! America’s Independence Day! The day we celebrate our country with patriotic red, white and blue. I wanted to spend the day at the beach being a bum! I’ve never celebrated the nationwide holiday at the beach!

In Texas my longstanding tradition was the backyard family BBQ every year. It never failed. But this year I wanted to go to the beach. I wanted to score some cool chairs, a nice umbrella and maybe a blanket or two so I can really spread out.

My Mom and Dad were talking and he said something to her that made me want to halt all Fourth of July (FOJ) plans. He was saddened because four of his five children were unemployed. The four kids, whom he paid his hard earned money to send to college didn’t have full time jobs. The four kids he’s never had to bail out of jail. I quickly responded that’s the America Dream, trying your hardest and coming up short. Oh you didn’t know?

My parents started at the bottom, acquired great jobs through Manpower but now their kids are at the bottom. It has to be painful to see. I can only imagine what it would be like watching your child struggle at just paying their basic bills. There is an engineer, business, sociology and journalism/Spanish degrees among us, yet we are unemployed for various reasons.

Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?

In a country where over 20 million people are facing the bleak outlook of no healthcare if the GOP healthcare bill passes, the American Dream is becoming unobtainable. This Independence Day doesn’t feel the same. The outlook in this country for Brown and Black people is the worst its been since The Civil Rights movement. We are seeing nasty racist attacks across the country yet our President won’t denounce his supporters.

Many have claimed this holiday doesn’t feel the same. Indeed this holiday doesn’t feel right, but I ask has the FOJ ever meant anything to the Back descendants of slaves? My Dad was born in 1944 in Washington County. It’s a small town in South Texas not far from Texas A&M University. I’ve written before how he was four years old when he first remembers his family having to escape in the middle of the night from white men that would want to harm his father.

And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,

We are celebrating the freedom this country affords it citizens. On FOJ we are a happy American utopia, a true melting pot as we strive for some sort of “unity.” Have we forgotten Philando Castille? Trayvon Martin? Or Alton Sterling? Will their
names be mentioned at your cookout? Will you remember the broken families today, torn apart by a travel ban under the guise of protecting America? All over America the rights of Brown and Black people are being threatened by a fragile white ego.

This FOJ is a joke like 911. Today I woke up tired from dreaming too hard, hungry because my dreams aren’t being fed and angry at this country that refuses to see their hypocritical nature. When you know better, you do better but this country has never known what’s good for it. So we are stuck with a tired soap opera reminiscent of the 1960’s.

O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave

No need to finish the song. We ain’t there yet.


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