I remember the day I became an American. I stood with a group of strangers from all walks of life and over the world. Together, we each raised our right hand and recited the Oath of Allegiance. I found myself holding back tears and swallowing down a lump in my throat as we collectively sang the Star Spangled Banner. Our journeys thus far and our dreams of the future shone in our eyes. This is the promised land for the brave and the free.
While watching fireworks last night I thought about that song again. I thought about that flag that “was still there” despite the rockets and the bombs. Quite possibly that flag was singed, torn, tattered with holes, but it endured. And strangely enough that ratty old flag inspires me to keep going when the going gets tough.
Reaching for the American Dream isn’t easy. No one hands it out on a silver platter, especially not to a woman of color. I’ve had to compromise myself. I have battle scars. I’m damaged goods. But every day I get up even when I feel like it would be easier to crawl into a hole and die.
Freedom is risky. It’s safer to go along with the herd, keep your head down, do what’s expected of you. Freedom of speech means speaking up when there is injustice. Freedom of expression means being open to criticism, opposition, and shaming. Freedom requires courage.
Dare to be free, my little munchkins. You can come out now.