A Great James Baldwin Quote for you this 4th

By: Selma Farsakh Ulm

In his 1955 collection of essays, titled Notes of a Native Son, James Baldwin states “I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” This quote has given me faith and drive since I heard it first, in my 8th grade Social Studies class, in video clip form. On this fourth of July, I feel it speaks to the moral struggle many have about their love and fondness for this nation, and what it means to celebrate antiracism on this holiday ironically titled Independence Day.

The United States, for the majority of its citizens and inhabitants, is home. It is full of memories, holding the love of a mother smothering her child. But like a grandmother’s wet kiss, there are discomforts to this love. While American nature and the scenery can insight glee in every visitor, it is also a reminder of the genocide and forceful removal of native people. While the 4th of July may bring you memories of music, family, and good food, it has for too long also left a sour taste in the mouths of those who have not been included in the grander American understanding of Independence on this day.

I find Badwin’s quote perfect for anyone this holiday struggling to console their ‘patriotism’/fondness for the United States with their anti-racist journey. Far too often the two are framed as antithetical by the mass media. However, to be an American patriot I believe is to hold the United States accountable to the promises it has made, the ideals it has set forth. Set some time aside this fourth to think about how you can be part of making America live up to the promises it outlined in the Declaration of Independence. 

Enjoy!