Today is our Independence Day, but it feels like anything but. Last week, the Supreme Court decided to take away the rights of people rather than expanding those rights. On a day, where we celebrate our Declaration of Independence that stated that our Creator had endowed us with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, many of us are lamenting the fact that it feels like each of these rights continues to be taken away from us at every turn.
How can someone feel they can experience life when others are allowed to discriminate against them simply for how they live? How can one feel free when they are being burdened by loans that they had to take just to attend an institution of higher education even when these institutions provided them with scholarships? How can one pursue happiness when they are told that the one thing that was helping to level the playing field is gone and that the opportunity for their full being to be considered in their admission to the school of their choice is no longer present?
Sweet land of liberty? Doesn’t seem like it anymore. Gone are the days where I was proud to be an American. I think as a kid I wanted to belong and I had on rose colored glasses thanks to my parents shielding me from the harsher realities of our world. They knew all to well what I did not, as individuals who were integrated in their senior year of high school. Neither remembered the event with any fondness. They were taken away from teachers, peers and the things they knew to be ostracized in a world they didn’t. They succeeded over their peers in the new schools they attended and in my mom’s case, even became their superior once they started working.
My parents didn’t even deign to think of going to a school that wasn’t an HBCU. But for my brother and me, they wanted us to have the ability to go wherever we wanted. Both my brother and I worked hard and we both ended up graduating as Salutatorian in our respective high school classes. We were smart, actually, we are smart. We were given an opportunity to prove that we belonged in institutions that before wouldn’t have even let us in simply because of the color of our skin.
That’s all gone now. The Court saw fit to say that we should turn back the hands of time and stripped future generations of the protections that my brother and I had.
They didn’t stop there though. They also made it okay to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation and also, refused to grant millions some modicum of relief from crushing student loans. Instead of operating in a manner to grant life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, they decided to provide us with a world that feels burdensome, controlled and full of strife and struggle all to keep a few of those who live here in power, in wealth and in control of how the remainder of us live.
Let freedom ring? I don’t think so. Cash and power are king now. Integrity is gone. A sense of moral responsibility to do the right thing is gone. Liberty is fleeting. Independence? For many of us, we don’t get to claim that today because the Highest Court of the Judicial Branch of the Government, which has lifetime terms to be insulated from the political leanings of the world is in fact allowing those leanings to take us all back to a time where very few of us were able to truly enjoy Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Instead of progress, we’ve regressed. So what are we celebrating today? It’s not independence. It’s a celebration of a nation that has decided to become the very thing that the founding fathers were seeking to declare their independence from. This Independence Day isn’t anything to celebrate and if I’m being honest, it hasn’t been for a while. This is no longer the land of the free and the home of the brave. Instead, it’s the land of greed and home of the easily swayed.
Image background courtesy of @pawel_czerwinski.