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The US Supreme Court ruling against Roe v Wade has brought calls for a July 4th boycott, which centers whiteness

June 30, 2022

The US Supreme Court’s decision to terminate Roe v Wade has been devastating news for people around the country. 

Protests have erupted in numerous cities and communities throughout the nation, with the expected police repression. People are angry, and rightfully so. The end of Roe v Wade will impact anyone wanting to have an abortion, but it will particularly impact those who are forced to live with economic insecurity, along with BIPOC, queer and Trans communities, all of which will disproportionately be impacted by the criminalization of abortion.

Within the past week, there have been calls coming mostly from white women to boycott the Fourth of July. There have been memes circulating on social media, like the ones displayed below.

Again, I get the anger and I get the motive to boycott July 4th. However, this sentiment demonstrates a great deal with what is wrong with how we understand history in this country, and how white privilege is once again being displayed in the calls for a Fourth of July boycott.

The Fourth of July holiday is designed to get people to passively accept the premise that the US fought and won independence and freedom from the British, wherein the residents of the newly created nation would experience liberty and justice for all.

This all sounds nice and makes for great propaganda, but it completely ignores the history of oppression and exclusion that has plagued the US since it was founded. For those pissed off about the Roe v Wade decision, and calling for a Fourth of July boycott, demonstrates not only the level of their white privilege, it demonstrates their ignorance and complicity in crimes this country has committed against so many people. What follows is a brief list of why the Fourth of July could and should always be boycotted:

  • The US has engaged in genocidal policies against Indigenous people/nations on this continent since the founding of the US. White Settler Colonialism has been the primary driving force, which has included the outright slaughter of Indigenous people, the forced removal from their lands, the repeated violation of treaties, forcibly removing Indigenous children from their communities and putting them in so-called “Boarding Schools,” and the denial of Indigenous people to celebrate their own spiritual traditions for most of the past 250 years. For an excellent resource, see Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz’s book, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. 
  • If people haven’t read it, they should read Frederick Doughlass’ famous 1852 speech, entitled, “What, to the Slave, is the Fourth of July?” Douglass calls out the realities of slavery and denounces the blind celebration of July 4th, by saying, “What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelly to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.”
  • While Chattel Slavery was outlawed by the end of the Civil War, the US legal and economic systems made sure that Black people were still denied freedom and independence. The 13th Amendment essentially made slavery legal again, a theme which is explored in AvaDuVernay’s 2016 award winning documentary, 13th. In addition, the history of lynching, red-lining, legal segregation, the War on Drugs, mass incarceration, gentrification and the ongoing efforts to dismantled legal gains made by the Black Freedom Struggle/Civil Rights Movement, ultimately demonstrates that Black people have never been afforded the same freedom as white people in this country.  
  • The history of US immigration policy has excluded millions of people from coming to and be accepted into US society. From the Chinese Exclusion Act in the late 19th Century, the refusal of the FDR Administration to welcome thousands of Jews fleeing Nazi Germany, to the brutal treatment of people fleeing poverty, political oppression and climate catastrophe from Latin America since the 1960s, the US has consistently excluded millions of immigrants seeking asylum and safety. See our popular education tool, History of US Immigration Policy.
  • The US has a bloody history towards working class people, which has always been directed by the Capitalist Class, with assistance from the state and the state’s main enforcement mechanism, the police. From the earliest efforts to win labor struggles in the early part of the 19th Century, the harsh repression of radical union organizing in the late 19th Century through the 1930s, and the ongoing Capitalist Class’s war against working people, evidenced by the efforts against Amazon and Starbucks workers, most people living in this country have never experienced economic freedom or independence. See Kim Kelly’s book, Fight Like Hell: The Untold History of American Labor. 
  • The US has consistently marginalized and repressed people who are part of the LGBTQ community, those who are gender non-conforming; religious minorities, especially Muslims, those in the disability community, anti-war dissidents, radical environmentalists and so many other communities that the systems of power in this country have never accepted and have often brutalized. 

In addition, to the white privileged calls to boycott the Fourth of July, many white-centered organizations and white individuals have been using additional memes to reflect their anger towards the current US Supreme Court Justices, where they refer to them as the American Taliban, even changing the images of the 6 Supreme Court Justices that voted against Roe v Wade to look like members of the Taliban. 

In a recent post on Dissident Voice, Tom Wheeler writes: Using phrases like “American Taliban” or invoking the term “sharia law” to attack the ruling of Christians on the court is all the rage after the recent Roe v. Wade decision. Once again, we have people—primarily liberal white people—engaging in racist, Islamophobic tropes. Muslim activists, scholars, and researchers have repeatedly pointed out this racism and Islamophobia for years, apparently to no avail. This needs to stop. Islam isn’t the problem. It’s Christianity. The six judges who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade aren’t Muslim. They’re Christian. The oppression in America is home-grown Christianity. It’s as American as apple pie.

Wheeler goes on to cite professor Nazia Kazi at Stockton University, who points out, “it reflects this assumption that Muslim women are uniquely oppressed and that American or western women are remarkably liberated. From both the American common sense public imagination, right on up to the seats of power, there’s this impulse to externalize that which actually is endemic to the US itself.”

What this all comes down to is the failure of white liberals to fully understand or acknowledge the real history of the US, along with the fact that too many white liberals don’t really give a damn about other people’s struggles for freedom and liberation. Calling for a boycott on the 4th of July because of the recent US Supreme Court ruling, is a reflection of the fact that too many white people knowingly or unknowingly embrace the values of White Supremacy. 

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