Gathering and Art Installation: Whose Independence Day
Art installation by First Seven Design Labs. Photo by Meg Lemieur
PHILLY RESIDENTS SAY ‘WHOSE INDEPENDENCE DAY’: HIGHLIGHT SETTLER COLONIALISM WITH GATHERING AND ART INSTALLATION JULY 4TH
The 4th of July is generally considered a time when all Americans celebrate, but some Philadelphia organizations intend to demonstrate that the sentiment is not ubiquitous across the United States. A broad coalition of organizations representing African-American, Native-Americans / Indigenous Peoples, Immigrant, Black, and environmental justice communities will be gathering on July 4, from 11 am-2pm near Independence Mall, to highlight the negative impacts of the very colonialism that brought this country into being.
Indigenous 215, Voces del Barrio, Womanist Working Collective, EDGE Philly and others will be teaming up to speak about settler colonialism with the backdrop of a large covered wagon emblazoned with the word ‘Co2lonialism’ and struck through with giant arrows showing words like indigenize, resist, and reparations. The piece is meant to be critical and thought-provoking; the goal is to start conversations with 4th of July celebrants who may not otherwise consider the often-deadly impacts of settler colonialism.
From Womanist Working Collective:
The Womanist Working Collective centers the livelihood of Black women/womyn, transwomen, girls, femmes & Gender variant folks. Our survival depends on the denouncement, divestment and dismantle of the Imperialist White Supremacist Capitalist CisHeteroPatriarchy. This July, we’d like to remind everyone that “independence day” has never symbolized independence for the Black people in America. In fact, it only rubs salt in the open wound that is Imperialism as it continues to neglect the racialized state-sanctioned violence, on-going political warfare on disenfranchised communities and ever-expanding economic inequality which has kept Black folks in bondage for centuries.
From Indigenous 215:
Indigenous 215 invites you to join this anti-colonial action to promote awareness and educate the public at large at Independence Hall about why this day is not celebrated among Indigenous, brown and black communities in North America, and to garner support against the ongoing settler-colonialist assaults that has threaten the land, waters and lives of Native Americans / Indigenous communities across Turtle Island and the Americas since the arrival of the Europeans.
Indigenous 215 is a working group of Indigenous peoples in the greater Philadelphia area. We seek to foster community, promote awareness and education of Indigenous history and contemporary communities, and to support the urgent struggles for Indigenous rights, sovereignty, and self determination in Philadelphia.
From EDGE Philly:
Here in Philly, the colonialism celebrated on the 4th of July, the very colonialism that led to the genocide of native peoples and enslavement of Africans, continues today in many forms, not least of which is exploitation by fossil fuel companies. We are home to the largest oil refinery on the east coast, a prime example of environmental injustice that continues despite clear data proving the harm it causes to nearby residents. Across Pennsylvania pipelines like the Mariner East are being built despite there being no benefit to local residents who are often forced under threat of arrest to give up land for this toxic infrastructure. Like the forefathers of the United States who stole land and owned slaves, companies like Sunoco/Energy Transfer partners think they own air, water, and land to pollute as they please. There is little difference between the manifest destiny motivations of the past and the profit for a few motivations of today.
“We have to build understanding for diverse cultures and stop putting our most vulnerable members of society in a box,” says Alicia Dorsey of EDGE Philly. “Black and white mentality stripped cultures from people and put them in a box of classism. We have to have conversations about colonialism and the trauma that was caused.”