While we spent July 3rd at the International Printing Museum, for the actual Independence Day holiday we spent the evening at home with vaccinated friends and watching both Disneyland and neighbors’ fireworks. Amid the pandemic I’ve been exploring a lot of our nearby parks, and over the last year I was introduced to Heritage Park in Cerritos, and it’s quite the odd little gem, and a perfect place to spend part of the Fourth of July. Why? Because it has a miniature version of Boston from the 1770s!
Caught up in the American Bicentennial, Heritage Park opened in 1976 and features an island inspired by Paul Revere’s “Midnight Ride”, including a pint sized version of Boston that is actually a playground. A small ship is docked by a small interpretation of the Old State House that houses a jungle gym, and a mini version of the Old North Church is home to a slide. Scattered around the island are small plaques recounting Revere’s ride to alert American Patriots of the arrival of British Regular Troops, making for a fun trail around the island.
Many Americans use Independence Day as a time to celebrate how amazing they think America is, however, I think it’s a time to reflect and think about what America needs to be, which I believe is a view more in line with the spirit of the American Revolution. When Massachusetts men threw tea into Boston Harbor, kicking off the American Revolution, they did so because they felt they were being treated unfairly, by being taxed without any representation within Britain’s parliament. They sought to change the land in which they lived, which is what we need to continue to do today, and trust me, there is plenty to work on!
Americans must learn that this land originally belonged the variety of Indigenous tribes, and today members of the Indigenous community are working toward reclaiming some of their historical homelands through the Land Back Movement. To learn more, I recommend this introduction by CNN.
Our neighbors to the north recently unearthed multiple mass graves of Indigenous children who were forced into Canadian Indian Residential Schools, bringing to the surface the horrors of the past. But this isn’t just a Canadian issue, the United States had Indian Boarding Schools, which sought to “Kill the Indian, Save the Man” by attempting to eliminate everything Native, including language, dress, traditions, and overall culture. Often glossed over in history during schooling, it is a subject I recommend taking the time to learn more about. I recommend this brief history here to get you started.
While America claimed “All men are created equal” we know not all people are treated equally in America. Recently critical race theory, which works to teach the racial disparity in America’s history has been under fire, and many states are working toward banning it. Once again CNN has written a piece to better understand critical race theory. If your state is attempting to ban critical race theory, I beg that you please vote against such a ban, as it does a disservice to everyone.
If you think we live in a post-racial world, then I would say you’ve been living under a rock. Amid COVID-19, the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities have faced an increase in hate crimes. In my post regarding the Stop AAPI Hate movement, you can see a list of various resources toward better understanding the AAPI experience and making active changes for the better.
Much like BIPOC communities, the LGBTQ+ community has also faced discrimination and violence. In fact, according to the Human Rights Campaign, 2021 has already faced an unprecedented amount of anti-LGBTQ+ laws. Once again, if you live in a state that is attempting to pass anti-LGBTQ+ laws, please vote for equality.
Voting is the bare minimum you should be doing. I also recommend getting involved in local protests, as well as taking a stand when and where you can, calling out friends, family, and co-workers when you hear or see something that is discriminatory. Feel uneasy about that? Then suggest taking a free bystander intervention class offered by hollaback. I took it a couple months ago, and highly recommend it.
Speaking of voting…Despite no evidence of wide-spread voter fraud, many states are trying to make it more difficult to vote, which is incredibly anti-American. Please be aware if this is happening in your state and work toward making it easier for you and your fellow citizens to vote.
This is by far a non-exhaustive list of what is happening in America, and I encourage that you stay aware, stay curious, and continue to fight for equality of all Americans.
America has always sought to create a “more perfect union” and today we must continue to do so. It’s vital to create and pass laws that bring more of our citizens into the fold, with laws that allow easier access to voting, dismantling white supremacy, and attempting to right the wrongs of the past.