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I always considered myself a patriot growing up. I could not be prouder of my Dad who served 20 years in the United States Air Force, our family who traveled and moved constantly to support him, my younger brother who is an officer and a pilot in the Air Force, and my 1st cousin who stands toe-to-toe with her co-ed counterparts as a woman serving in the United States Navy. They are part of a tradition in my family that includes my grandfather, countless uncles and cousins who have served including one who is currently battling effects of PTSD. Military life is close to me. Some of my dearest family friends are those of other military families met on remote bases around the world. So naturally, the Fourth of July is a holiday I’ve typically celebrated. Recently though, I’ve been feeling the tension between celebrating a great country and committing to impacting needed change.

There are so many issues that I as a black woman, responsible for raising two black sons, recognize as crucial to my future, my family’s well being and the world we leave to my sons’ generation. Women’s issues from equal pay to reproductive rights are at a standstill. The safety of this land’s indegenous people has taken a back seat since the height of #DAPL protests. Flint is STILL in a water crisis. The top threat to black males like my Husband, Dad, Brother and more seems not only to be unjust police deadly force but lack of indictment afterward. Veterans still need far more funding for their physical care, mental and emotional rehabilitation and transition into the civilian workforce.

This country IS awesome. The freedom of expression and economic opportunity we experience here are unmatched. That does not mean the history of atrocity committed against native Americans and African slaves that built this country should be swept under a rug. That does not mean we don’t have serious issues to correct right away. That does not mean that we should shrug immediate concern about the repercussions of climate politics and responsibility to this planet. That does not mean we should pretend to be okay with a president who tweets more than he researches, or empathizes. I love this Nation, and it is for that reason that I will align myself with positive change for the future thereof. It makes me sad that there are so many things to do, and so many issues that are not getting the attention they deserve. I remain hopeful, however, that together we can and will get the work done.