4th of July!

I want to start off this post talking about the 4th of July.  When I was a kid, it was so exciting to get to see parades, and fireworks, and go to cookouts, but the idea of what it represented was fairly vague in my head.  I’m sure that’s fairly normal.  As I grew older, I grew to appreciate the real reason for the holiday, and I continued to enjoy the cookouts, but parades and fireworks started to lose their appeal (not just for 4th of July, I just don’t find either one exciting).

Then a few years ago, I was watching a show (I’m pretty sure it was Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell—a totally underrated show) and Chris Rock said “Happy White People’s Independence Day!”  Immediately, I was a flurry with thought, I hadn’t ever considered that before, but it was undeniable, it was the day that the founding father’s declared “that all men are created equal,” despite the fact that slavery was still legal, and many of those men owned slaves.  It was something that for whatever reason, my brain wasn’t able to realize without Chris Rock pushing me there.

Fast forward to last year, I posted a Facebook post about “white people’s Independence day” my hope was that I would be able —not to alienate, but— to kick start the same thought process I had gone through.  I don’t think I know any black people who don’t celebrate the 4th, so I don’t think skipping the holiday is necessary, but I think its something we should talk about.

The post which was relatively lengthy got me accused of “hating white men,” by a family member, and then when I walk talking about it the next day with a conservative friend he said “well you do hate white people.” (In case you’re reading this and don’t know I’m a white man, a very pale pasty white man.)  I was shocked by this as the image I was projecting.

After a few days of thought, I realized why I give off the impression that I hate white people.  I have no loyalty to my race, and while I recognize that I’m a white person, I don’t think of it as my identity at all—the ability to not identify myself by my race, may be a part of ‘white-privilege’ because it is very rare that I am confronted with it.

“I don’t have any loyalty to my race,” that is the kind of statement, that I think needs to be explained.  I’ll quote my father who said “I can’t think of a black person that I hate, but I can think of several white people I hate.”  I think that’s an important element of why I feel no loyalty, because when I think about the people who bullied me, the people made me feel less than, the people who made sections of my life a nightmare, every single one of them is white.  Going to a catholic middle school, where by virtue of my last name, and my big nose, I was different, I was called “kike” and “faggot” and whatever other disgusting thing they thought my suit me.  One of the few people from that period who I remember always being nice to me was black.

I haven’t known as many black people in my life as I would like, but every one that I’ve known has been nice to me.  Every Latino, every Asian, and—even though it’s not a race— every gay person I’ve ever met has always been nice to me.  I should mention, that nice and polite are different.  These people have been kind, and friendly probably because I have been kind and friendly, and they’ve had no reason to not be.  Those white people that I’ve had problems with in my life, I was kind and friendly to them too, but it wasn’t returned.

So, I don’t feel any loyalty to the white race, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have loyalty to white people.  Everyone in my family is white, and I love and am loyal to—most of— them.  The two people I love most in this world, the people I would do anything for, my wife and son are both white (even whiter in complexion than me believe it or not).

I didn’t tell you this to talk about race on the 4th of July, but to share with you a brief story of my journey with the holiday, and how I try to appreciate it for what it is, but not to forget it’s flaws.  I hope you have a Happy 4th of July!

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