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Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Freedom is an Absolute, and We Absolutely Aren't Free

By: Liberate Zealot

Today, July 4th, is the day my country, the US, celebrates its existence, it's independence.  July 4th is Independence Day, but for all, as my name implies, I love freedom and independence, I cannot celebrate this day. 

This country, supposedly founded on freedom, has never been free for the majority of people.  The founders didn't include women, the poor, the differently abled, queer, or people of color as deserving freedom.  And to this day these groups of people (some of them my groups) are not free.  Now one could say that things have gotten better or that since there are no slaves and "everyone can vote".  But such people must be ignorant of the voter suppression initiatives or the rules about convicts and ex-cons, which relate to thousands upon thousands of people (primarily people of color) being unable to vote.  And they must be willfully unaware of all queer people who often don't have to right to civilly marry who they love, where they can't adopt, where they aren't protected from discrimination in schools or jobs.  Likewise they must not see the increase in the laws that take away women's body autonomy.  Because these things are my reality, and the reality of millions of Americans, and we are not free.

To say that we are more free than we were 236 years ago is laughable. One cannot be more free, or less free.  Either I am free, or I am not.  Either we are free, or we are not.  Freedom is an absolute.  And the majority of people in the U.S. are absolutely not free. 

So freedom, real and pervasive freedom does not exist in this country.  And the United States was not founded on freedom.  It was founded on genocide.  Biological warfare (small pox blankets), stealing land, and forced "relocation" make this land "available" for European settlers. And these same settlers, and thus the country, flourished off the kidnapping of people.  The United States grew in power because of slavery, off the ownership and dehumanizing off millions of people.  After the end of legal slavery the US continued to profit off of the underpaid work of people of color, of immigrants, who they continued to treat as less than human.

This oppression is what out country was founded on.  This oppression is what the country grew on.  And it continues to this day.
Often I am glad to live in this country.  Sometimes I am even proud, though generally I am angry, ashamed, disgusted, scared, and betrayed.

I don't expect perfection, but I expect improvement.  And I expect awareness of the failings of the past, and the work that still needs doing.  And until I see this recognition on the part of the US, and it truly is an Independence Day for all of the people of the US, I cannot join in on the celebrations of the Fourth.

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