Thoughts on wellness and equality on the Fourth of July.
The Fourth of July — like most other things these days — is going to be a little different this year. As coronavirus cases surge across the United States following too-rapid reopenings, the need for social distancing makes our usual backyard barbecues and beachside adventures difficult, if not impossible. Meanwhile, the light shows came early in cities across the United States this June, as a mixture of pent-up quarantine frustrations, youthful exuberance, and defiance of government regulations led to an early fireworks boom (and that’s if you don’t believe the conspiracy theories).
The most significant reason this Fourth of July is different, however, is visible across the United States. Since late May, following George Floyd’s extrajudicial killing at the hands of Minneapolis police, a Black-led uprising against institutional racism has swept through America’s streets. This uprising has sent shockwaves even louder than the fireworks’ booms, shaking up everything from the halls of government to the boardrooms of big business to everyday residents’ hearts and minds.
The uprising has also made many Americans, especially white and racially privileged Americans who may not have been accountable for racial injustice previously, grapple with the violent foundations of U.S. democracy. The current uprising — and the racist, anti-Black police brutality, and vastly unequal public health system that instigated it — reveals that racism, gender inequality, and economic exploitation aren’t flaws in the American system: they were part of that system’s founding.
If we care about the mental health and overall well-being of our population as a whole, we must take this Independence Day to understand the fatal inequalities baked into American democracy — and understand that true physical, mental, and spiritual well-being requires liberation for all.