July 4, 2022
Rachel McCrickard, LMFT
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July 4, 2022
By: Rachel McCrickard
When I was growing up, the Fourth of July meant a few things – fireworks, burgers and hotdogs, my dad’s homemade Oreo ice cream, and sitting on our deck until the mosquitos drove us back inside. I would feel pride for my country and gratitude for my family.
Today, Independence Day feels a bit different.
The last few years, I’ve been trying to create space for complex and conflicting feelings about our country. I wonder if some of you might be feeling the same?
On one hand – I love America. Recently, I went on vacation to Europe and, after eating all. the. pasta. I found myself longing to get back to the U.S. There is so much I love about this country. It looks, and feels, and smells like my home.
I love how each state has its own unique personality, sights, and culture. I love that our country has produced incredible films, and shows, and music that is beloved around the world. I love the way our country has leveraged technology to birth innovation and solve problems. And I love that we live in a democracy with the opportunity to vote, voice our opinion, and create change.
However, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that my version of America isn’t everyone’s experience of the very same place. Being white, cisgender, and raised middle-class has afforded me privileges and power I did nothing to earn.
Beginning to understand my own white privilege has unveiled some aspects of America that aren’t as easy to stomach.
I believe that it’s important to acknowledge the dark, shameful parts of our history – like the fact that the U.S. was built on land stolen from Indigenous people. And the impact slavery, Jim Crow and the War on Drugs had, and continues to have, on communities of color. And the Japanese American internment camps, where 120,000 people of Japanese decent were relocated and incarcerated during WWII.
Each of these atrocities, and many others like it, represent parts of America that I detest – the destructive mentalities that “white is right” and that it’s okay to leverage one’s personal beliefs to limit the human rights of others.
Sadly, this mentality continues within our society in various forms. Personally, I’ve been struggling to understand how those who claim to be pro-life, seem so silent on things like the death of 53 migrants seeking asylum at our borders or the 60 gun shots fired on Jayland Walker, an unarmed Black man killed by Akron police last week.
I find it hard to access the love I know I have for our country when I see the ways in which we are failing.
As I’ve been sitting with these feelings this weekend, I tried to remind myself that we, as therapists, are no stranger to paradoxical feelings.
We’ve been trained to sit with our clients as they work through a variety of conflicting thoughts and emotions. Things like letting go of an important relationship that is also causing harm, or embracing ones full identity, even if it comes with great loss.
Wrestling with these complex feelings isn’t easy. I, for one, am often tempted to just light a sparkler, eat Oreo ice cream, and pretend this tension doesn’t exist.
But, for me – and I’m guessing for many of you – it does.
And I believe the solutions to the problems our country faces aren’t going to be found hidden under a rock somewhere. Instead, I think the answers must be born, created, and cultivated from within us.
Today, I’ll be acknowledging Independence Day by reminding myself of the power within my own voice, the possibilities that exist with my vote, and the responsibility I have to create a better America for future generations.
What thoughts and feelings are going through your mind today? If you have anything you’d like to share, I’d love to hear it.
Rachel McCrickard, LMFT
We’ll be with you every step of the way.