For the first time in my life I didn’t celebrate Independence Day. Sure, I am in prison but I usually make it a point to express my patriotic side which is a vein that runs very deep. I still get goosebumps every time I hear the national anthem and I cannot help but put my hand over my heart during the pledge of allegiance. But this year I just wasn’t feeling patriotism.
At first I thought maybe I was just feeling the blues. I loved someone who got out and has made contact with everybody but me, my star mentee goes home this Tuesday, I’m 16 months to the gate myself, and I’m currently living by myself in a cell (which is a stressor considering I’ve never lived on my own and I’m 38). But I knew better when the fireworks started.
Outside my cell window I get a near panoramic view of a city with a backdrop of the Cascades and big colorful plumes of explosions lit up the night sky for hours. My neighbors were like children cooing over the displays but I thought only one thing: This symbolizes war. From my vantage point I see a sitting president building the foundation of a loyal, well-armed far-right army and following just like every other dictatorship has ever started. Every day that passes they get bolder and bolder in their rhetoric of racism and idealism that is getting dangerously close to Stalin, Hitler, and others who have waged cultural wars. To be quite frank, I’m worried that in the next 16 months America will be locked in a 2nd civil war and those fireworks served as a primer for what could be a new normal for American civility, war.
I still love all people. Every day I work on embracing multiculturalism and universal beliefs to counter my racist and segregative upbringing. Racism is still alive and well in this counter and it’s not even hidden anymore. In fact, it seems that as we edge closer to the eradication of racism the racists get more agitated and threatened. It’s a strange thing to me to see the right to hate being defended so blindly.
We need to commit to peace. In places like Germany they make a commitment to expose every remnant of Hitler’s regime and bring it into the light to be examined, not memorialized. We need to take a piece of Brazil’s cultural solution to encourage multiracial relationships, bring our ugly beliefs to the surface and allow the wounds of injustice to finally heal. The discomfort if healing wounds is healthier than the festering of infection carefully concealed.
I still have hope for this country and all it’s inhabitants. But this year, I just wasn’t feeling very patriotic.
Feel free to contact me, a little human contact is always welcome
Ruth Utnage fka jeff 823469 C-601-2
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA. 98272
or via Jpay email service (you have to use my birth name, but, please do not call me by it, my new legal name is Ruth)