“The best things in life are free”
– Janet Jackson
“Freedom! You gotta give for what you take”
– George Michael
So this blog is all about everything free!
If you’re anything like me, you have days where you’re trying to do something and anything for free.
However, freedom is not free. It comes at a cost.
Some examples include: the barriers for women to attend higher education in some cultures/countries, the ban of gay/lesbian couples to marry in most U.S. states, the limitations for disabled individuals to adopt children, the insecure and unsafe measures of deportation for immigrants, the lack of religous tolerance and freedom for public worship of religious traditions, and also the heavy cost of treament and health insurance for poor families.
People often pay for freedom over many years or lifetimes. People often pay in blood, sweat, and tears. A few even pay with their lives. It includes days and nights of adversity, hardship, and grueling work without praise, admiration, and/or rewards. In one way or another, everyone sacrifices for the cost of freedom.
Since we have celebrated the 4th of July U.S. Independence Day and the 2012 London Summer Olympics, I thought I would reflect on freedom and its impact on me as an African American.
Chris Rock tweeted an extreme statement that he viewed the 4th of July as European American’s Independence Day. I strongly disagree due to the civil rights struggles and sacrifices that have enabled me to enjoy civil rights, liberties, and freedoms as an African American. With every abolition speech, stop on the underground railroad, Buffalo soldier, Historically Black College, reformation policy, lynching, bombing/fire, assasination, fire hose blast, police dog attack, arrest/incarceration, raid, broken color barrier, sit-in, march, vote, worker strike, boycott, act of civil disobedience, elected official, court case, and desegregation policy, my freedom was bought and paid for by my ancestors, elders, and their allies.
I’m so proud to be American because of this special tradition… freedom. This is ironic for a Black person to say (trust me I really had to think hard about saying this!). Yet, no where in the world do I have as much freedom as a minority. I’m not saying that I have total freedom as an African American with policies such as racial profiling and inequalities such as racial achievement gaps; but comparatively, I have lots of freedom as a progressive young heterosexual able-bodied single African American women protestant in America than anywhere in the world! Go America!
Then I read a quote from President Barack Obama where he stated, “We need to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world,” he said. “We have to make America the best place on earth to do business. We need to take responsibility for our deficit and reform our government. That’s how our people will prosper.”
My answer is we do. We out-freedom everybody.
We need to keep these traditions such as democratic education so that people understand and appreciate the great sacrifices that people have made for our freedom. Democracy is a grandiose ideal in America that has taken many years of reformation to improve. We need to understand that, as Americans, we have always been contradictory and conflicting in our views of freedom and access. Our democractic government ensures that we can pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Yet, for whom?
Early in American history, democracy and freedom did not include various groups such as Blacks, Native Americans, ethnic groups, women, disabled, immigrants, Catholics, Jews, or the poor. These groups did not experience full American citizenship, if at all. However, From the work of diverse minority groups, individuals, and allies, more and more people are able to experience the ideals of freedom and democracy in their everyday lives.
Through democracy, we have the freedom to be creative, critical, and innovative without fear. I could denounce the American flag without worrying about any government repercussions. I can praise Jesus, Allah, Yahweh, Buddha, Brahma, money, the moon goddess, Mother Nature, the Sun, etc. and I will not be condemned or ostracized in society.
As a progressive person, it’s a double-edged sword to seek further equality because in America we equate equal rights to infringing on others’ freedoms. However, if everyone can’t experience democracy, then no one can truly be free. Freedom will always come at a cost for someone. In this world, we have enough resources and freedom to share with the world; therefore, we must work towards life, liberty, and happiness for all. In theory, we wouldn’t need social programs, if people had full freedom and resources to provide for themselves. For example, I have told people that I hope my job and research in ethnic minority recruitment would no longer need to exist. Someday, underrepresented minority groups would no longer need to be considered a special population. Then, minorities will be fully integrated in mainstream society and equal opportunities.
As a people, we have to care for freedom and for people. Therefore, I will continue to be assertive for freedom for all. In true American tradition… Give me freedom (liberty) for all or give me death!
P.S. Everyone has degrees of freedom in their lives. So, why and how are you thankful for the freedoms that you enjoy? What can you do to ensure your freedom and the freedom of others?