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Fourth of July Festivities: Why Are You Celebrating?

I am a critical thinker in healthcare, a critical thinker in everything education, and also a critical thinker of our cultural practices. I am a seeker of truth in all things, always questioning, always digging deeper. The thing is that it isn't just our diet and our movement that defines our health, and it isn't just the toxins in our environment that impact our health. The people we surround ourselves with and the thoughts and feelings we engage daily likely have a much greater impact on our health and happiness, yet this largely goes ignored in healthcare.

This post is exceedingly controversial and as a business owner, sharing these thoughts violates every business principle ever printed in marketing textbooks, but let this be testament to how sincere I am about my approach to health and wellness. My passion is that every individual feels safe and loved. My desire is to help clients live their most authentic life, one that is honoring to them, and offers them complete vitality their entire life.

This effort though often means that speaking my truth about what creates health and happiness often ruffles feathers. It means losing potential clients who I offend. It also means burning bridges professionally and being made a target on social media. This is a necessary risk when one's intent is more about doing what is right, more so than it is about earning popularity and fortune.

It's that time of year when red, white, and blue decor go up everywhere, but if I am completely transparent, the last few years I've felt really conflicted about celebrating "the land of the free and the home of the brave," in a land that honors the liberties of only some people.

There are multiple #holidays that I've began to ask more questions and take more issue, and there are many holidays I wonder why they aren't being taught in schools and celebrated nationally. It really is time the national holiday calendar (and the history books) have an epic makeover. We've begun doing this within our own family and we speak about #misogyny, #racism, #homophobia, #microaggressions, #grooming, #oligarchy, and oppressive social constructs to nurture empathy ad awareness 24/7/365.

It's 2020; I am sick of the racism and white-washed history and symbols disguised as #patriotism. I am also over playing along with Christian rhetoric regarding gender roles and pretending we live in a country who upholds religious freedom and equality, yet the only acceptable religious practice is Judeo Christian which invades every aspect of our culture and female healers continue to be pushed out of society, cast out as #witches. We have a plethora of minorities who are marginalized, and let's be frank, we have far too many human beings afraid for their life on a daily basis simply for being themselves.

Isn't it time we re-think holidays and historical symbols that pledge allegiance to oppression and replace them with more comprehensive celebrations?

Consider Memorial Day. According to multiple sources, the first Memorial Day commemoration was organized by a group of freed slaves in Charleston, South Carolina less than a month after the Confederacy surrendered in 1865. Yet, who gets credit for Memorial Day? Almost always credit is given to General John A Logan.

Did you learn about Juneteenth in school? Neither did I. It wasn't until just a few years ago that I learned about #Juneteenth and immediately implemented it into our homeschool curriculum. Juneteenth, named for June Nineteenth, commemorates the day federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed. This is especially epic because the troops arrived over two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth is considered the longest-running Black American holiday.

Let's talk about Columbus Day. "In the year of 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue." How adorable, right? Like a modern day Disney movie. Yet, today, very few of are ignorant to the fact that Columbus was a colonizer, an alleged rapist, and an enslaver. The Columbian Exchange brought smallpox, among other diseases, that killed millions of Native Americans. Yet, we honor him with a national holiday, closing our schools and workplaces? Stores host Columbus Day sales and we continue to #gaslight ourselves into believing Columbus was honorable, and worth celebrating. Columbus did not discover already-inhabited lands. White men aren't the damn saviors in every story - and in fact, they are quite often the villains.

Why aren't we celebrating and honoring Loving Day? Did you know that Loving v. Virginia was the case of Mildred and Richard loving, a Black woman and white man, whose marriage was determined to be illegal by Virginia's state law. On June 12th, 1967, the United States Supreme Court ruled that banning interracial marriage violated the 14th amendment. Every year since interracial couples across America celebrate the Loving family and the landmark case.

Firecrackers, Hotdogs, & Juicy Watermelons

The Fourth of July, Our Nation's Day of Independence, is one of the more fun celebrations. Don't get me wrong; I get it why so many enjoy this particular holiday no matter the underlying controversy. My son is military, so was my father and grandfather. I am not against having a good time with friends and family, but I can't help help but think of the old saying, "it's all fun and games until someone gets hurt." People are getting hurt in our country - all varieties of people, so why are we collectively celebrating a holiday that isn't truly All-American? This is a holiday about #privilege.

The hypocrisy of this celebration makes me nauseous. What do People of Color think of this celebration? Do they see it as a sham? Do they see white families celebrating national greatness with huge ego trips? Do they hear our sounds of rejoicing as empty and heartless? When we speak of liberty and equality, do they feel we mock them? I do and I suspect it crossed the minds of most women this past year that our families celebrate, while we not freely govern my own body. I can't even work independently in my profession; the law requires nurse practitioners, a female-dominated profession, be subservient to a male-dominated profession, the physician, in spite of no evidence supporting this as being appropriate.

We love to pretend that slavery was so long ago, as was the time when Jim Crow laws governed. We like to think we live in a post-slavery nation or a nation that stands for equality. We even pretend we give honor to all cultures, all ways of life, but the rights of women and men are not the same. The rights of People of Color and the rights of whites are not the same. What Native Americans have suffered and suffer every single day in our society will never be realized by our generation. The rights of the LGBQT are not the same as cis-individuals, and our country is so oblivious to this issue that they voted into office a man who embodies hate for essentially all people, all those but the rich, white man. This sick individual has already announced he is running for 2024 because he can still garnish enough of a following from a country engorged with greed.

Grateful for Progress

It excites me when statues are removed that bid honor to enslavers and colonizers. I am thrilled when Confederate flags are banned, and not just from Nascar racing. There is no reason to pay homage to symbols of racism disguised as southern pride. Nobody is falling for that anymore - except racists.

I am also not advocating that we alter or forget history, but it is time we tell the whole story. History is our teacher. If we don't want to repeat it, we need to learn from it. However, that doesn't mean that we need to worship racists as the heros that they weren't or vow to be loyal to a country over the people within it.

We now know better; it's time to do better. Ditching white-washed history and holidays, and those that cultivate oppression on anyone is one way we can, as a nation, work to be more loving and improve the health and vitality of all people. Black History Month and Pride Month are important concepts every day of the year, and not just to People of Color or the LGBQT community - it is important that we all have basic human rights and that we are all free to be authentically ourselves. Women should feel safe to walk through parking garages without the worry of being raped, or to order a drink in a bar without the fear of it being spiked. Every day we need to hold each other accountable to honoring others, to lifting them up, to making their paths safe and to demanding that their right to happiness is no less important than our own.

As you prepare for your Fourth of July Celebrations, I challenge you to ask yourself, "What am I celebrating?" We hang our pride flag, our all-lives-matter flag, our equality flag, and our red, white, and blue simultaneously because until everyone is free, this country is not in fact, a free nation.

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I've been struggling with the celebration of holidays like Independence day for a few years now. We celebrate freedom in a country where we really are not free. We set off fireworks that are traumatizing to veterans. It just doesn't feel right.

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