To be brutally honest, I have a love-hate relationship with the United States. In high school, I altered the Pledge of Allegiance that I recited. Instead of declaring that our country had liberty and justice "for all," I declared "with liberty and justice for
." Recently, I stopped saying the Pledge altogether because it's really hard to declare my allegiance to a country that has and continues to oppress, cripple, and maim its own citizens. At the same time, I love what my country offers me—freedom on so many levels, including the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and knowing that as a young African American woman, nothing is outside of my reach, including a chance at the
Herein lies the problem: The same country that affords me so many opportunities is the same one that denies me so many more. While becoming the President of the United States (or minimally the First Lady) may be within my reach, I must also wrestle with the fact that my ancestors were enslaved and denied their humanity in this country. I feel the effects of that in my family and my community to this very day.
Every year, when paying taxes, I am reminded of the fact that the gap in household income between blacks and whites hasn't narrowed in the last 50 years, since MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech, and that the wealth disparity between whites and blacks grew even wider during the Great Recession, according to the Washington Post.
I live with the reality that I may make less money than my counterparts because 1) I'm African American, and 2) I'm a woman, even though I graduated from one of the most elite colleges in the country. Racism, classism and oppression aren’t just in our country’s past; they live in our present.
It's hard for me to grasp how a country that affords so much can deny so much. But it is possible. After all, this is the land of endless possibilities.
Happy (Belated) Independence Day.