This Fourth of July was different, rightfully so

Chris Charleston/ The Cougar

Chris Charleston/ The Cougar

This Fourth of July felt different. As we grow up, we joke that Christmas doesn’t feel like Christmas or that as we get older the things we enjoyed as children just don’t have the same charm. 

I think this Fourth of July was no different, except that instead of finding out Santa Claus was actually my parents, I began to educate myself on the issues that Americans face today. 

The Fourth of July felt off this year, because I realized that the ideas of “all men are created equal” and “we all deserve freedom and therefore are free” are just not true. The magic of the Fourth of July is no longer there for me. 

As an immigrant, I am grateful for the opportunities this country has offered me, but as a citizen I am critical of the injustice minorities, like me, face in this nation. 

I am privileged to have citizenship, to have light skin and to study at a university; for these reasons I am able to call out the injustice and discrimination I witness. 

For a week I have reflected on the irony of celebrating freedom in the nation that has the highest incarceration rate and the largest immigration detention system in the world.

I have wondered what these detainees and what the people who have been wrongfully incarcerated go through on a daily basis, and how they are dehumanized for existing. 

Our prison system is partially run by the private sector, and two of greatest benefactors, GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America/CoreCivic (CCA), also profit greatly from immigration detention centers. 

The War on Drugs criminalized and targeted Black and immigrant communities simply because somebody needed to be blamed and incarcerated. The racial grounds on which most of these individuals were arrested helped fuel the growing prison and detention systems of our country. 

It felt wrong to celebrate this Independence Day as I could not help but think about all of the people throughout our history, and even today, that do not experience the freedom we so eagerly celebrate on this day. 

We all are equal but we are not treated as such. We all have inalienable rights but some of us don’t receive them. 

We fought for freedom from the British 237 years ago, but now it is time to fight for freedom in the U.S. and advocate for those who face injustice in the land of the free.

Gina Medina is a journalism senior who can be reached at [email protected]

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