As you can see by the post of Frederick Douglass' July 5, 1852 speech I am of twin minds about my feelings for my country today.
I can't forget as I chow down on my barbecue and watch fireworks displays that the freedom I enjoy as an African descended transperson was paid for with the blood and sacrifices of others.
They did so in the hope and expectation that my generation wouldn't have to deal with the virulent crap they experienced.
It's why I fight hard for ENDA and Hate Crimes passage so the next generation of transpeople and others who benefit from the granting of rights to us will have a less rocky road as a transperson.
That's why I can't or won't forget what Douglass eloquently said about this day 157 years ago.
What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy -- a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.
I also have that section of the speech playing in my mind when I ponder the events of this year and frame them in the context of my trans peeps suffering how much has actually changed in this country?
But at the same time I have to remember November 4, 2008 and revel in the warm memories of the night in which a man who shares my ethnicity was elected president of the United States of America.
For the first time in this country's history an African-American man and his family reside in the house our ancestors toiled to build with their unpaid labor.
President Obama says about this day:
On July 4, 1776, we claimed our independence from Britain and Democracy was born. Every day thousands leave their homeland to come to the "land of the free and the home of the brave" so they can begin their American Dream.
The United States is truly a diverse nation made up of dynamic people. Each year on July 4, Americans celebrate that freedom and independence with barbecues, picnics, and family gatherings. Through the Internet we are learning about and communicating with people of different nations, with different languages and different races throughout the world. Bringing the world closer with understanding and knowledge can only benefit all nations.
We invite all nations to celebrate with Americans online this Fourth of July.
So yes, Independence Day 2009 is different from the 232 that preceded it. We have grown from a nation of 13 states confined to the Atlantic seaboard with an estimated 2.5 million inhabitants on this date in 1776 to 307 million on this date today that spans a continent and includes a Pacific island chain among our 50 states.
One of the wonderful things about this country is encapsulated in what Dr. King once said.
'We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.'
In the context of my people's tortured history in the United States, there have been many times we have faced finite disappointment and even despair. But we never allowed it to deter us from looking at the big picture and having infinite hope that we would achieve it one day.
I think Frederick Douglass and all Americans who have toiled for equality, justice and a nation that lives up to the true meaning of its creed would be pleased with the progress that we early 21st century inhabitants of the nation have made so far.
But they would also admonish us that the job is not finished until ALL are free and all are equal. We must also be on guard against the Forces of Intolerance inside our nation that would deter that progress.
Happy Birthday USA! May you have many more.