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I'm "Celebrating" July 4th By Teaching My Kid the Hard Truths

Well, it’s July 4th again. While I’m planning to share with my son the story of how America came to be, and the significance of Independence Day in our nation’s history, I’m not going to sugarcoat the bad and the ugly when it comes to U.S. history. I’ll be spending the 4th of July teaching my kid the hard truths about the United States of America.

It wouldn’t be an accurate story about our nation’s first days without highlighting that Black people were enslaved by the nation’s “founding” fathers, and are still preyed upon by a prison system that strives to keep them in a different kind of enslavement to this day. It wouldn’t be fair to our country’s legacy — and to my son’s developing sense of self — to neglect to mention that the Constitution wasn’t written with women in mind (nor did it consider people of color, including the Native Americans who lived on this land before white folks decided to claim it as their own).

I am patriotic. I want my son to be a proud American, too, if he so chooses. I am grateful to be born into a time and place where I feel I can fully be myself — as a lesbian mom in New York City — and I don’t want my child to take that freedom for granted. But patriotism is about much more than blindly waving my nation’s flag and getting mad at anyone who doesn’t like us, or who says something negative about America.

The “land of the free, home of the brave” takes on a very different meaning if you’re a straight, white, educated Protestant male than if you’re a Muslim immigrant, a queer Jew, or a Black trans woman who didn’t go to college.

I celebrate the country that has granted me my voice through our First Amendment rights — a voice that I use to speak my mind, including to criticize the places where America has failed. I am privileged that this country has gifted me with an education so that I can both sharpen my intellectual skills and support my family through work and writing.

I am in awe of this beautiful country that has built some of the most diverse cities in the world. There are very few places on the planet where Muslims and Jews can sit next to each other in peace on the train, where two moms can raise their own child proudly, where a Black boy born in the projects can go on to become a billionaire entrepreneur.

America truly is the land of opportunity. I want my son to feel that — and hopefully to get to live that dream.

America is the country that promised its people “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and which backs that promise up with Constitutional Amendments that have grown in number with time to extend that promise’s reach to corners of the population who were formerly excluded. It’s the land that erected a great copper statue in its harbor with a powerful poem etched at its base: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free… Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.”

I will teach my son that we are a country that has long opened its arms to help others in need, a reflection in part of what the founders of America faced when they fled religious persecution and the imperialist rule of England.

But America is also the land of greed. It is a land where lawmakers feel emboldened to act out of selfish fantasy and to leave behind the best interests of their constituents. It is a land where big companies have more rights than most people, and executives line their pockets while people below their windows starve. It is a land where we turned away a ship of Jewish children who were sent to ovens to die, a land where we ripped Japanese families from their homes and forced them behind barbed wire, and where babies are still being torn from their parents’ arms and thrown in cages without access to basic care. America is a land where racism runs rampant — where slavery gave way to segregation, which gave way to red-lining and mass incarceration and police brutality. It is a land where misogyny is lurking in every office, every home, every institution.

It would be a dishonor to America, and to the next empire poised to rise in our dust, to omit the clear and simple truths of this nation’s ugly past and present. Most of all, on this Fourth of July, it would be a lie to tell my son that we wave our flag free from guilt.

In fact, we can wave the red, white, and blue with genuine pride and celebrate the extraordinary lives we’re privileged to live — but we hold this truth to be self-evident that not all men and women (and certainly not those who identify as neither) are created equal in this great land. It simply means that my generation, my son’s, and the ones that come after must continue to fight for America to be the truly inclusive place it aspires to be.

A version of this story was originally published in July 2019.

These surprisingly cool children’s books show a different side of American history.

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Excuse Us While We Waste an Entire Hour Staring at These 4th of July Party Boards on IG

The Fourth of July is here, and if you put your red, white and blue-themed menu planning off until the very last minute and are scrambling for some fast, easy snack ideas — or maybe you’re just looking for some eye candy — we’re glad you’re here. Our IG feeds have been filled with red, white and blue foods, but the party appetizer boards are the most visually appealing and would definitely be the easiest dish to whip up in under 20 minutes. Because I know you all enjoy staring at meticulously plated food boards as much as I do, let’s take a look at some of the best patriotic party platters we’ve found so far.

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As you know, I don’t sell boards so sometimes I’m not able to give you all the holiday inspo! But here are some AMAZING boards from our cheesy community for ideas. Happy 4th of July weekend!!!! 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 📸 CRED: 1- @thedelicious 2- @cheeseboardqueen 3- @seecandycook 4- @thecharcuteriemama 5- @boards_by_afenyn10 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 #tallycheeseboards #summer #palmbrie #loveletterstocheese #2020 #love #traderjoes #cheeseclass #cheeseinspo #cheeseboard #charcuterist #plattersoftheworld #grazingboard #cheeseplatter #ainttoproudtocheese #charcuterie #graze #grazing #tlh #events #tallahassee #local #tastemademedoit #huffposttaste #feedfeed #buzzfeedtasty #spreadly

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Star shaped crackers and star-shaped cheese — so festive!

Look at the little stars she carved into the mini Babybel cheeses!

Yes, even salami can be patriotic if you use a cookie cutter to cut it into little stars.

This video shows how easy and effortless these boards are to put together.

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Any holiday is a great excuse for an epic cheese plate 🇺🇸 I put together a little patriotic cheese plate with the most red, white and blue ingredients I could find. Starting at 12 o’clock and going clockwise 👉 strawberry, hard salami, prosciutto, Brie cheese, blueberries, macadamia nuts, cheddar cheese, blackberries, blueberry cheese spread and Swiss cheese. If you need some tips for throwing one of these together, read my blog post at the link below or the link in my bio. #madaboutfood #foodstagram #eatrealfood #fuelyourbody #goodmoodfood #healthyish #buzzfeedfood #huffposttaste #food52grams #eatwellbewell #eeeeeats #makesmeswhole #bonappetit #thenewhealthy #feedfeed #allrecipes #tasteofhome #realfood #homemade #recipe #foodblog #thekitchn #realsimple #cheeseplate #cheeseboard #lchf

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America, land of the cheese and cured meats!

This board surely has something to please everyone.

Omg! This one includes baby shark gummies for the kids. Hey, seeing them on your party board is better than having to hear that song again, right?

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The grand ol’ flag cheese tray is definitely going to be making its appearance again during our Memorial Day weekend celebrations 😍🇺🇸😋❤️ click the link in @thebakermama ‘s profile to get all the tasty details so you can make one too! #boardsbythebakermama . . . Repost @thebakermama ・・・ . . . . #cheesetray #memorialday #cheeseboard #partyboard #partyfood #charcuterieboard @thefeedfeed #traderjoes #traderjoeslist #seriouseats #buzzfeast #huffposttaste #thatsgoodhousekeeping #imsomartha #iamcreative #thekitchen #todayfood #thekitchen #beautifulcuisines #tohfoodie #shareyourtable #tastingtable #thatsdarling #traderjoesfinds #traderjoeslove #traderjoesdavie #traderjoescheese #cheese #cheeseplease #cheeses

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This one might take a little more skill but the end result is totally worth it.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!

This story was originally published in July 2019.

Before you go, check out these 4th of July dishes you can make in 30 minutes or less.

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Quick & Easy 4th of July Recipes So You Can Focus on Fun

Our Fourth of July celebrations are going to look pretty different this year. We won’t be planning lavish affairs with mile-long guest lists but that doesn’t mean we won’t be celebrating this patriotic holiday in fun (and delicious) ways. No matter what your small and socially distanced July 4th celebration looks like this year, we’re willing to bet you don’t want to spend hours in a hot kitchen preparing the food so you might need a few quick and easy July 4th food ideas — as in, the kind you can whip up in 30 minutes or less.

Fortunately, there exists an abundance of just such recipes. From onion dip with star-shaped tortilla chips to a festive fruit salsa, we’ve rounded up just what you need to pull off a star-spangled July 4th party menu (even if you’re whipping it all up in the eleventh hour). So, don’t fret. No matter how woefully unprepared you feel for the festivities ahead, we’ve got you covered.

Get ready to add the following recipes to your list of fast favorites. And happy 4th!

A version of this article was originally published June 2019. 

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These July 4th Printables Will Keep Kids Busy All Weekend

Although plenty of us are feeling not-so patriotic during this year of pandemic plus protests (and/or already celebrated America’s diversity on Juneteenth and are ready to call it a day) the Fourth of July remains a day of celebration for many Americans. And hey, what’s not to like about food, fun, and fireworks — and a day off? But you can’t spend the entire Fourth day and night outdoors (not in this July heat at least). In between backyard games and grilling, let kids take a break and still keep busy with these printable Fourth of July coloring pages.

We’ve created festive Fourth printouts featuring patriotic pictures of soaring bald eagles, firecrackers, American flags and even an old-timey Fourth of July parade. You’ll also find activity pages where kids can help each other through a Fourth of July word search and name the 50 states as they color in our printable U.S. map. Not only are kids unleashing their creative side, but they’re also using their minds to solve puzzles and learn geography. We’d consider that a win-win, wouldn’t you?

Stock up on your festive kid-friendly art supplies (and, you know, your red and blue crayons) — you’re going to need ’em.

A version of this article was originally published in March 2014.

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