- By Levi Rickert
OPINION. As 2020 continues to unfold, this Fourth of July is different.
On this nation’s 244th birthday, the most prevalent reason for the difference may be directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic because it certainly has changed the normalcy of everyday life across the country with many unknowns in the horizon. Many people are taking precautions and staying home to avoid making contact with anyone infected with the deadly virus, thereby avoiding any of their normal Fourth of July festivities.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many local municipalities cancelled fireworks displays. This year because of severe conditions on the Navajo Indian Reservation, all fireworks have been banned.
Each year near Independence Day, the research firm Gallup releases findings on its measurement of American pride among U.S. citizens. This year the findings met a new low ebb. The findings come as the country faces the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis produced by businesses forced and voluntarily closing due to the pandemic. Additionally, the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis by the hands of police has brought civil unrest to American streets.
Gallup says although a majority of adults in the United States still say they are “extremely proud” (42 percent) or “very proud” (21 percent) to be American, both results are the lowest they have been since Gallup’s initial measurement in 2001.
Gallup’s data are from a May 28-June 4 poll, which disclosed only 20 percent of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going in the country.
The breakdown of Gallup’s measurement of this attitude about being American between genders and races (which is limited to white and non-white respondents) is interesting:
- 34 percent of women selected “extremely proud,” a drop from 43 percent in 2019.
- 50 percent of men responded they were “extremely proud,” up two percentage points from last year.
- 24 percent of non-white people are extremely proud to be American, compared with 36 percent in 2019.
- 49 percent of white respondents picked extremely proud, a one percent drop from 2019.
It can be noted that this year was the first year that whites’ pride in being American fell below 50 percent.
The 24 percent on non-white people who are “extremely proud” versus the 49 percent of white Americans who are is an interesting comparison and speaks to the worldview disparity in a country that was in many ways shaped in racism.
The differing worldviews speak to attitudes and perceptions. “Perception is reality” goes the old adage. Sadly, the perceptions of reality differ significantly among races in America. The Gallup findings reveal that non-whites are not feeling the American dream much on this Fourth of July as they attempt to continue to deal with systems that seemingly work against them, whether in the justice system, educational system and even economic system.
THE RACIAL DISPARITY SPEAKS TO A GREAT DIVIDE THAT EXISTS IN AMERICA IN 2020.
The killing of George Floyd on Memorial Day produced protests, and some cases riots, in American cities. Floyd’s killing was a tipping point for non-white Americans that showed the deep anger and resentment that has existed across America as the result of years of police brutality against them.
Floyd’s death appears to have given momentum for the Black Lives Matter movement that emerged after Michael Brown, a black man, was killed in Ferguson, Missouri by a police officer in 2014. Many Standing Rock water protectors remember the support members of the Black Lives Matters movement gave to them in the Dakota Access pipeline resistance in 2016.
The momentum generated through the Black Lives Matters as the result of Floyd’s killing has produced toppling of racially offensive statues, including those of Christopher Columbus in several cities.
The momentum has also transitioned into the decades-old discussion about the Washington National Football League (NFL) changing the team’s name in the nation’s capital. On yesterday, facing intense pressure from some big-name sponsors, the Washington NFL franchise’s owner Dan Snyder announced the team is reviewing the name.
“This moment has been 87 years in the making, and we have reached this moment thanks to decades of tireless efforts by tribal leaders, advocates, citizens, and partners to educate America about the origins and meaning of the R-word,” National Congress of American Indians President Fawn Sharp said in reaction to the shift by Snyder. “The time to change is now.”
This momentum, if handled properly, can produce positive transformation in America that can be long lasting and close the attitudinal gaps that were so apparent in the Gallup report.