Simply stated, as minorities in America we went from “Yes we can” to “No please don’t,” in the midst of this cultural tumult that is the Trump Era. Our administration, which a year ago stood as an avatar of diversity and inclusion has devolved into an entity bent on building walls, deporting our neighbors, reigniting the War on Drugs, and banning entry based on religion.
Not gonna lie, it’s kinda rough.
And in the midst of this upheaval and reexamination of what it means to be included in this vast American experiment. As the stories roll in about this police shooting, or that parent picked up by ICE at school. While trying to navigate this new now and bracing for whatever comes next, we’re supposed to stop what we’re doing and celebrate the 4th of July.
How do we as multicultural and multi-ethnic Americans embrace patriotism when it’s been weaponized?
It’s easy, we’re going to do what ethnic minorities and erstwhile labeled “others” have done for this country over time immemorial; we’re gonna make America great in spite of itself and make it better in the process. We’re going to be who we are and we’re not gonna tone it down, moderate it, or take it easy on nobody.
Here’s how we’re gonna do it…
We’re bringing our own food to the cook out.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that when you think of the typical 4th of July spread it’s burgers and hot dogs and all manner of bland American food on a red and white checkered table cloth. Well, this year, we’re doing things different. We’re busting out all the flavors from home and launching a full-frontal assault with seasonings and spices.
And I’m not talking about the safe stuff that we serve when we have mixed company. Nah. I’m talking about the stuff we eat when it’s just us, but we’re not gonna serve it to just us. We’re gonna give it to everyone. Unadulterated and spicy, true to our own cultures and native lands.
We’re serving up all the chiles.
We’re bringing out all the sriracha.
We got all the curry on deck (yes, the green, the yellow, and the red).
We’re not gonna half-step on the jerk either
As hyphenated Americans, it’s not only our pleasure, it’s our obligation to eschew assimilation and drag our countrymen kicking and screaming into the future. It’s our job to make the majority uncomfortable by introducing them to our culture, our traditions, and our realities. It starts by serving them our foods the way our forebears intended; without moderation, without compromise, and full of all of its authentic flavors.
If we’re to believe that America is bigger than the naysayers, it’s our patriotic duty.
What we eat and how we eat it is one of our strongest forms of resistance against pernicious definitions of normative Americanness. Or, put another way as multicultural and multiethnic Americans, we literally bring something different to the table that helps us define who we are. And, by virtue of the hyphen that connects our ancestry to adopted home, what we’re serving is a connection between our disparate pasts and our country’s interwoven future.
Demographics are still destiny and America is getting browner by the day and, by extension, spicier.
That said, it’s imperative that we don’t give up who we are or what we are for the illusion of acceptance in the face of resistance. I know that it seems like the times might dictate a different approach, but don’t forsake what’s beyond the horizon for the few hills ahead.
That’s why it’s so important that we take this time on this holiday to celebrate America the ways that make us uniquely American. Not the way that they might try to dictate it to us, not the way that we’re told to accept, but fearlessly and forcefully exerting our own identities. And on a day that’s dedicated to a casual celebration of collective gluttony in the name of patriotism, there’s no better time to both figuratively and literally force our cultures down the throats of our neighbors.
So we’re bringing our own food to the cookout.
Our carne asada. Our tandoori chicken. Our kimchi. Our oxtails.
We’re even gonna bring stuff that looks familiar but we done flipped, chopped, and screwed to fit our own cultural palates. Why? Because this is America, Jack, and somehow, someway we took sushi and burritos and transformed them into a delicious arranged marriage that really should have happened centuries ago.
Don’t ask us what’s in it, don’t ask us if it’s too spicy, and don’t ask us if you’re gonna like it. We’ve accepted Americans norms for what they are, it’s time that America starts accepting our multicultural and multiethnic norms for what they are; the future. A future with ambiguous ingredients, some discomfort and heartburn, and one that will turn out to be all good in the end.
This year, amidst all that ails us and a system trying to fail us, we’re going to continue our own brand of patriotism and we’re bringing our own food to the cookout.
So yeah, I guess we are gonna be doing the 4th of July after all, but yo, we’re gonna make America great with what we put on our plates.