Today, throughout the United States celebrates the 4th of July – Independence Day. In 1776, the Continental Congress declared that it did not recognise King George of England as its ruler and announced the unification of the 13 colonies into a free and independent state. It was the beginning of the modern United States and is one of its most important public holidays.
For the past two centuries, Thanksgiving and Independence Day have been key days in the American cultural and national calendar. Fireworks, feasts, time for family and friends. Holiday messages on unity and friendship from the White House. These two days have become elements of contemporary pop culture and have crossed the borders of the United States and become famous, and even celebrated, around the world.
However, the narrative of freedom and independence is increasingly being questioned. Social groups that deal with the processes of decolonisation are talking louder that this event accelerated the seizure of indigenous territory, led to the extermination of the local population, and even to genocide. On the eve of July 4, a video appeared on the Facebook page of The Decolonial Atlas, illustrating the process of seizing indigenous land and establishing reserves throughout the United States.
Voices seeking more inclusive societies of post-colonial nations are growing stronger. After major civil strife over a monument in Charlottesville in 2016, a new wave of reconsideration of the national narrative culminated in the police murder of African-American George Floyd. Monuments to Confederate representatives were demolished throughout the United States, but also to the “fathers of the nation” such as Jefferson, who owned slaves. It seems that this process will not stop and that an increasing number of non-white groups are gaining the confidence to express what stings them.
For example, out of the 27 monuments located at and near the National Mall in Washington DC, there is only one dedicated to an African-American figure. The United States is ripe to rethink its national narrative. The one that exists now is too narrow and too white.
This article was created within the research project Dreamt Capital Cities.
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