Whose Independence Day is This?

The sun rises against the fog

of a summer morning

and I realize

oh –

it’s Independence Day.

And I sink into the cushion

that supports my meditations

and I realize yet:


there’s an “only” there.

It’s only Independence day

for white, land-owning America.

It’s only Independence day

for social security codes

coupled with digits of a bank account,

routing numbers determining status

in one’s own country.

Can you call a country a home

if the welcome mat

is swept away from your feet

and placed only at your neighbor’s,

the one who moved in well after you

and forced you to build the home?

It’s only Independence day

for someone like

the proud Republican,

a God-fearing man

with propensity toward prayer,

yearly marches against abortion,

an easily turned ear

against the stories of the riot.

Then again

could it be Independence Day

for Black America

and underpaid women,

for rainbow-bearing hearts

and the ones who lived on this land

before it could be owned?

Could it be Independence Day

for the fleeing and the fled

hopeful families who, instead

are left in cages at the border

with shouts of a wall closing in?

Could it be Independence Day

for the lonely and the afraid,

the “problems” cast bitterly to the side

sent into a system

to be enslaved and to die?

Could it be Independence Day–

a day of Freedom and Rights–

for anyone other than

those who penned

the Declaration

in the first place?

Illustration by Jamiel Law


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