There’s a song that some sing this time of year with full-throated enthusiasm and tears in their eyes, patriotism dripping from their souls, “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free.

But this song has always bothered me. It feels like it an empty platitude. The more I hear it, the more it leaves a hollow ring in my heart. Most of all, it leaves me asking some important questions.

  1. What does American freedom really look like, lived out? Do we really know what this even means?
  2. Does freedom for you always mean freedom for me?
  3. For instance, am I a free American if your religious and political convictions prevent me from living my own?
  4. Am I free if the color of my skin is directly related to the increased risk of my newborn’s death?
  5. Am I free if I want to love someone but legislation prohibits that love?
  6. Am I a free American if my elected leaders believe my children are more at risk from a book than a gun?
  7. Am I free if I experience an increased risk of death at the hands of the police who are sworn to protect me?
  8. Am I free if my children are stolen from me because of my heritage?
  9. Am I free if I my level of melanin prevents me from being allowed to buy a house?
  10. Am I free if I’m caught in the evil world of human trafficking?

Of course there are a million other questions I could ask, but the one that echoes in my head over and over:

Am I free in America if a single other person is not?

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