Today, as we munch on some delicious barbeque ribs, chicken, hot dogs and hamburgers and throw back some cold beers and wine, I can’t help but think about the significance of the day. It is Independence Day.
Independence Day is a day that we are supposed to remember and celebrate the day that the United States gained its independence from Great Britain. But what if we used this day, every year, to reflect on our independence as Black people rather than as a country.
To me, it seems like a fallacy to celebrate “independence” with the rest of the country when I see the statistics in Black unemployment such as the ones in St. Paul, Minnesota. Are people really “independent” when they cannot pay their bills and feed their children? I think not.
Today, we had a small cook out and drank a few drinks, but I was still up early in the morning doing the work that I need to do to one day be able to shrug at the thought of losing my job or my husband losing his. I believe you truly only have financial independence when you work your job because you love it and what you do is meaningful work. (Side note-I do love my job as a college instructor and student adviser and I believe that I do meaningful but the fact remains that we rely on the income to pay some of our household bills). I believe that you truly have time freedom when you dictate when you will work and under what conditions rather than wait for the “boss” to tell you.
It is my hope and desire that as we all enjoy the day with our friends and family (or alone), we all take the time to think about what it would take to truly be independent, to be “free”. Yes, the current administration has a level of obligation to look at a number of policies and how they can be adjusted so that everyone has a a chance at the “American Dream” but lets also start taking actions that will create our own freedom.
A year from now, I hope that we will all be one year closer to our independence; closer to the day that we can shrug at the prospect of losing our jobs or even smile fondly at the memory of ever having had to rely on someone else to feed our children and put a roof over their heads in exchange for our time.
Work is important, hard work is something that only a few embrace but let’s start working towards our independence, whether it’s just a little or a lot. I work a job because I love it but when I am not at work, I work even harder at my own ventures. Next year, I will be one step closer to my independence; will you?