It happens every year. Your progressive friends host the Fourth of July barbecue, where you eat too much carne puerco and grumble intermittently among yourselves about what crap this holiday is, how it's all about nation-building and do you remember that piece by Howard Zinn on putting away the flags? Then you all agree that on the flipside it's nice to have a day off or have gotten overtime. You open more Coronas and start talking about the bad news you just read on FaceBook that morning.
But what if we turned the 4th of July into an annual reminder for social justice? It could be our yearly check-in for what we can do to change this country for the better, or at least to push it in that direction. Here are 5 ideas to get you going after the fireworks are done:
1. Tell Obama to Stop Deportations
This week, the president made his pitch for getting immigration reform back on the table. He put the bulk of responsibility for the stalled efforts on Republicans, forgetting to mention that under his administration deportations have increased to an all-time high. Tell Obama to take responsibility now. He can start by dismantling the 287g programs that train local cops to enforce immigration law. Call the president (202-456-1111) or email him.
2. Support Those Hurt by BP
An estimated 60,000 barrels of oil are gushing every day now in the Gulf. If you need to understand that in personal terms, ifitwasmyhome.com makes it possible to see what the spill would like if it had hit your hometown. And then start donating to groups who are on the ground helping communities of color like the Hope Community Development Agency in Biloxi, Mississippi, which is working with Vietnamese fishermen and women.
3. Turn Your Status to "I Am Oscar Grant"
We're expecting a verdict any day now in the trial of the transit cop who killed Oscar Grant. Bring more attention to the verdict and the case by making "I am Oscar Grant" your status on FaceBook and Twitter and linking to analysis like Julianne Ong Hing's that explain what the verdict will mean. While the media warns people about rioting by Black and brown people in Oakland, put your money where it counts and support groups like Youth Uprising, who are working in the local community with young people.
4. Enjoy Dissing "The Last Airbender"
It was the much anticipated race movie of the summer. Anticipated because the movie's producers took the characters who were Asian on the original TV series and made them white. The casting decision resulted in outraged fans accusing the producers of "racebending." To say the movie has flopped would be kind. Ebert called the film "an agonizing experience in every category I can think of and others still waiting to be invented."
5. Start Planning Your July 29 Trip to Arizona
That's the day SB 1070 goes into effect. Although it's likely that a court order will put a temporary stop to the law, thousands of people from across the country are traveling to Arizona to protest that day. A coalition from Los Angeles will be sending 13 buses with people who are leaving behind their identification papers and will challenge Arizona cops to arrest them. Not able to ride to Arizona? Organize an event--- poetry readings, mural making, fundraisers ---to voice opposition to SB 1070 as part of AltoArizona.com's 30 days for Human Rights campaign.