It’s July 4.
It’s known, across the semi-United States of America, as “Independence Day.”
But who, really, is free?
We celebrate this date because back in 1776, “the delegates of the 13 colonies officially adopted the Declaration of Independence and ended British rule,” per a quick Google search.
For the following 246 years, our nation has celebrated its independence from oversight by another nation not on our shores.
For most of what has transpired over the past 246 years, I am grateful.
But who, in this nation, in 2022, is truly free?
There are plenty of marginalized people who are not: people of color; foreigners not born in this land but who came here seeking the freedoms that we profess to provide to citizens; members of the LGBTQ+ community; and a myriad of other niches of peoples who call the United States home.
Many women in our nation are feeling less than free this July 4, due to the recent Supreme Court ruling regarding Roe v Wade and abortion rights.
I’m a pretty darned privileged, middle-class-to-upper-middle-class white woman. Though I’m well beyond my child-bearing years, had I wanted to get an abortion back in the day and this ruling had taken place, I had the means to travel to wherever need-be to get one.
The women who are truly “less free” today are women whose socio-economic status ranks them among the poor. Assuming they even have a car (many poverty-stricken people do not) they don’t have the money to fill their gas tank and drive across town, much less drive across state lines, much less leave the country.
And freedom isn’t just about who has abortion rights and who doesn’t. To me, it’s about who has access to the things they need to live, day to day, week to week, without wondering how will they get a ride to work, how will they feed their children, and where will they sleep safely tonight.
And trust me, I know there are no easy one-size-fits-all solutions to all of those problems. But while we are working on creating solutions to those issues, it’s important to remember that not everyone in our community — certainly not all of the women in our community — enjoy the same rights, privileges and freedoms as I do…as you do.
So, while yes, white privileged middle-class Patti still feels stung by the rights of abortion and bodily autonomy taken away, keep in mind as you celebrate this July 4 holiday that freedom is much more than what happened with Roe v Wade. It is the right to walk down a street and not know your every move is being watched due to the color of your skin. It is the right to know that you didn’t get that job you applied for because you weren’t qualified, not because you present as “they” and you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
Freedom is absolutely about mourning the loss of Constitutional rights, but it is also about ensuring that everyone — men, women, young, old, rich, poor, black, white, brown, red, yellow, LGBTQ+ — is granted the freedom to live their lives, as they wish, safely, without fear of harm or any form of discrimination for simply being who they are.
Then, and only then, will our nation truly be free.