• Gloria Ortega

Farce of July: A Colonial Legacy

This month, we once again celebrated the Fourth of July. Once again, we dressed our homes in red, white, and blue, and once again sent fireworks screaming into the sky, and once again consumed excessive quantities of greasy food, and once again ignored the painful, bloody genocide that allows this ritual to continue. Ironically so, we celebrated the independence from British Imperial rule and European colonizers who “migrated” here while criminalizing immigrants. In school, we are taught specifically about our Founding Fathers; Jefferson, Washington, Adams, Monroe, Madison. All perpetuate a Eurocentric fairytale.


"'Always Remember. Your Fathers Never Sold This Land' –Old Joseph" Akwesasne Notes; Offset, 1976

While people were firing up their grills, flying patriotic colors, we turned off our news channels and blasted our ecologically questionable fireworks. Why are *we* still celebrating this colonial holiday that displaced indigenous folks from this homeland? The mass genocide of Natives that is embedded in the soil under our feet is a massive wound that seems to scar but never fully heal, while Native folx* are currently struggling for basic land rights and sovereignty.


“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” –Declaration of Independence

How equal were we when enslaved folx were considered 3/5ths of a person? When dozens of treaties were broken in order to steal land? The commencement of the United States is genocide. Colonial settlers never found anything, they colonized an already existing infrastructure of ecological, communal harmony & balance. The systematic effects of our colonial beginnings have led to the mass incarceration of Black folx, unjust judicial warfare on Native populations and an overall flawed narrative that, at its core, is oppressive to people of color and those who question the hegemony of the United States government.


"I Pledge Allegiance" Lou Dorfsman, Ron Borowski, Starfish Productions; Offset, 1970

The irony of this holiday is incomprehensible, while families are being turned away at the border seeking political asylum, pursuing their right to happiness. Children are being locked up in concentration camps for being “illegal aliens,” yet Europeans escaping tyranny have undeniable, unalienable rights.


With the momentum of the United States’ nationalism this month, how effective is it to just acknowledge our hypocrisy? Is it enough to start conversations about land acknowledgments of the indigenous people who once occupied your territory? It’s a start.

But what ways are more tangible to fix a problematic system, that originated off the backs of Native populations and enslaved** African folx? Think critically. Agitate. Educate. Organize. Invest in your community.


*The term folx is used in this article to acknowledge people of all genders, including but not

limited to LGBTQ+IA.

**Enslaved is also used to denounce the former term ‘slaves’ as we recognize that Africans in the Revolutionary period were much more than property and to honor their identities as individuals.

"No Trespassing" Rich Kees, Northland Poster Archivel; Silkscreen, 1982

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