Independence Day has always been one of my favorite holidays. With all of the unrest in our country, and abroad, it’s safe to say that this 4th of July feels different. In the absence of parades due to social distancing, and fireworks now feeling more like bombs over Baghdad, it’s hard to figure out how to celebrate Americana. The best conclusion I’ve been able to come to is that it’s okay to be a patriot, even when your government and your neighbors have failed you. It’s not okay to continue to allow your government and your neighbors to always fail you.
This 4th of July, I want us to reflect on how we can hold ourselves accountable to be better neighbors to each other. All politics is local. Charity starts at home and carries itself abroad. Freedom is an inside job. Consider this: Set yourself free. Be kind to your neighbors. You did the best you could and better days are coming. Here we go!
- TO WATCH: Last year, I watched a docuseries called America To Me on Starz, and my thoughts about public education have forever changed. It both spoke to my own educational experience and also opened my eyes to what so many kids go through just to get to school. The series is named after a line in Langston Hughes poem, “Let America Be America Again.” My mother is a retired social worker and growing up she always said, “You never know what a person has to go through to get from door to door.” I encourage everyone to watch America To Me and keep that phrase in mind.
- TO EAT: I love nothing more than a burger cooked on a charcoal grill. As far as I’m concerned, my father is a grill master, and I look forward to eating one of his juicy burgers every 4th of July. I like mine really simple with a slice of cheddar cheese and some Heinz ketchup. I can’t wait to have one this weekend!
- TO DRINK: My favorite new cocktail recipe is a watermelon mojito from mixologist Tiffanie Barriere. It calls for fresh watermelon, mint, honey and the liquor of your choice. I made this refreshing cocktail for a group of girlfriends at a socially distanced picnic a few weeks ago. It was an instant hit and super simple to make. I added jicama to mine as well and I have no regrets. Cheers!
- TO PLAY: As everyone is anticipating the release of Hamilton on Disney+, now might be a good time to revisit The Hamilton Mixtape. Lin-Manuel Miranda gathered some of the hottest hip hop and R&B stars to do their own renditions of iconic songs from the musical. Get ready for outstanding performances from Jill Scott, Andra Day, The Roots, Chance The Rapper, and a reunion of Ashanti and Ja Rule.
- TO READ: I have been slowly and deliberately making my way through Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison’s last book. Morrison was a giant of American literature, and The Source of Self-Regard is further evidence that God gifted us with her words. The book is a collection of her speeches and essays, both published and unpublished. Reading it, I can’t help but believe that Morrison knew we would need her words for a time such as these. Get ready to turn the page and find yourself renewed.