Fourth of July hol­i­day brings mixed feel­ings for mi­nori­ties

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

As many in the United States cel­e­brate the Fourth of July hol­i­day, some mi­nori­ties have mixed feel­ings about the rev­elry of fire­works and pa­rades in an at­mos­phere of ten­sion on sev­eral fronts. How do you cel­e­brate dur­ing what some peo­ple of color consider trou­bling times? Blacks, Lati­nos and im­mi­grant rights ad­vo­cates say the af­ter­math of the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, re­cent non-con­vic­tions of po­lice of­fi­cers charged in the shoot­ings of black men, and the stepped-up de­ten­tions of im­mi­grants and refugees for de­por­ta­tion have them ques­tion­ing equal­ity and the prom­ise of life, lib­erty and the pur­suit of hap­pi­ness in the United States. Film­maker Chris Phillips of Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri, says he likely will at­tend a fam­ily bar­be­cue just like ev­ery Fourth of July. But the 36year-old black man says he can’t help but feel per­plexed about hon­or­ing the birth of the na­tion af­ter three of­fi­cers were re­cently cleared in po­lice shoot­ings.

Po­lice shoot­ings

Since the 2014 po­lice shoot­ing of un­armed teenager Michael Brown in Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri, of­fi­cer shoot­ings - of black males in par­tic­u­lar have drawn scru­tiny, spark­ing protests na­tion­wide. Few of­fi­cers ever face charges, and con­vic­tions are rare. De­spite video, sub­ur­ban St Paul, Min­nesota, po­lice of­fi­cer, Jeron­imo Yanez, was ac­quit­ted last month in the shoot­ing of Phi­lando Castile, a black man. The 32-year-old school cafe­te­ria worker was killed dur­ing a traf­fic stop July 6, al­most a year ago. “Jus­tice ap­par­ently doesn’t ap­ply to all peo­ple,” said Phillips, who saw the protests that roiled his town for weeks fol­low­ing Brown’s death.

His yet-un­re­leased doc­u­men­tary “Fer­gu­son 365” fo­cuses on the Brown shoot­ing and its af­ter­math. “A lot of peo­ple have lost hope.” Un­like Phillips, Janette McClel­land, 55, a black mu­si­cian in Al­bu­querque, New Mex­ico, said she has no in­ten­tion of cel­e­brat­ing July Fourth. “It’s a white man’s hol­i­day to me. It’s just an­other day,” McClel­land said. “I’m not go­ing to even watch the fire­works. Not feel­ing it.” McClel­land, who grew up in Los An­ge­les be­fore the ur­ban un­rest of the 1960s, said she fears cities may see more vi­o­lence amid a feel­ing of help­less­ness. “I’m pray­ing and try­ing to keep pos­i­tive,” she said.

Im­mi­gra­tion was a key is­sue dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign for both par­ties. Since then, Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion has stepped up en­force­ment and in­sti­tuted a scaled-back par­tial travel ban that places new lim­its on en­try to the US for ci­ti­zens of six Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity coun­tries. The tem­po­rary ban re­quires peo­ple to prove a close fam­ily re­la­tion­ship in the US or an ex­ist­ing re­la­tion­ship with an en­tity like a school or busi­ness. On Fri­day, the ad­min­is­tra­tion an­nounced that Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment would ar­rest peo­ple in­clud­ing rel­a­tives - who hire smug­glers to bring chil­dren into the US il­le­gally.

Pa­tri­cia Montes, a Bos­ton res­i­dent and im­mi­grant from Hon­duras, said she’s grate­ful for the op­por­tu­ni­ties and se­cu­rity the United States has given her. Yet this year, she doesn’t know how to ap­proach the Fourth of July hol­i­day. “I fell very con­flicted,” said Montes, an im­mi­grant ad­vo­cate. “I mean, what are we cel­e­brat­ing? Are we cel­e­brat­ing democ­racy?” Montes said it pains her to see chil­dren flee­ing vi­o­lence get turned away and de­ported back to Cen­tral Amer­ica with­out due process. She also is dis­turbed by re­cent im­mi­gra­tion raids in Latino and Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties that spark more fear and un­cer­tainty.

In Texas, Latino ac­tivists have been protest­ing a state law that forces cities and towns to co­op­er­ate with fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties. In New Mex­ico and Michi­gan, im­mi­grant ad­vo­cates have been ral­ly­ing on be­half of Iraqi refugees fac­ing de­por­ta­tion. “There’s a lot not to be proud about when cel­e­brat­ing the Fourth of July,” said Janelle As­torga Ramos, a Univer­sity of New Mex­ico stu­dent and daugh­ter of a Mex­i­can im­mi­grant. “Even though it’s a time to cel­e­brate as a coun­try and (for) our unity, it’s def­i­nitely go­ing to be on the back of our minds.”

Desspite those prob­lems and con­cerns, Ramos said her fam­ily will rec­og­nize the hol­i­day and visit Ele­phant Butte, New Mex­ico, a pop­u­lar sum­mer des­ti­na­tion. “This is our home,” Ramos said. Is­abella Baker, a 17-old Latina from Bosque Farms, New Mex­ico, said she’ll cel­e­brate the hol­i­day based on her own views of pa­tri­o­tism. — AP

AL­BU­QUERQUE: Kad­him Al-bu­mo­hammed (kneel­ing right), a 64-year-old Iraqi refugee in the US, lis­tens to speak­ers at an Al­bu­querque rally in his honor. As cities and towns host July 4th pa­rades and fire­works shows, some mi­nor­ity res­i­dents are ex­press­ing mixed feel­ings about the hol­i­day used to reaf­firm the coun­try’s found­ing based on equal­ity and civil lib­er­ties. — AP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.