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Asim on Fourth of July and Independence: WBUR

Jabari Asim, Writing, Literature and Publishing associate professor and Elma Lewis Distinguished Fellow, contributed to a WBUR Cognoscenti piece titled “July 4th Is Different This Year, and also the Same. ‘Independence’ Day Is Complicated” and shared the reasons his family does not celebrate the holiday.

July Fourth has never been a day that my family observes. We don’t have a cookout, we don’t stick a flag on the front porch. Even in past years when we attended our town’s fireworks display, we’ve watched under the common understanding that our purpose is not to celebrate. We just want to see the bright colors streaming underneath the dark sky. Freedom for black people in the United States has always been tenuous and contentious, and never separate from the realization that our white neighbors might turn against us, as they have in Tulsa, Rosewood, Boston, East Saint Louis. Independence Day, as some call it, becomes another opportunity to reflect on the value of vigilance, the price we pay for any semblance of freedom. Joy is best reserved for other occasions.

Listen to the segment or read the piece.

Asim is also featured as part of the Boston Book Festival’s community writing project, published in the Sunday Boston Globe. He writes about his experiences walking on the sidewalk as a Black man, before COVID-19 and now. Read the essay.

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