Growing up in Benton, Ark., Malaya Tapp loved celebrating the 4th of July with her family. “We would go to parades and watch fireworks shows and hang out with friends,” she said. “It was always a fun vacation.”
But now that she’s an adult – she’s 18 and will start university next year – commemorating the holidays isn’t so simple.
It started in 2020 when the Black Lives Matter movement brought to light many injustices across the country. “I lost a lot of my patriotic feelings,” she said.
Ms. Tapp, who now lives in Atlanta, also realized that many of the festive elements of the 4th of July didn’t appeal to her.
There are fireworks. “It’s hard to tell the difference between guns and fireworks, and here there’s always something on the news about a shooting or something, so it makes me nervous,” he said. she declared. “They are also bad for the environment. They release a lot of toxic chemicals.
This year, she is skipping the holidays altogether, opting instead to travel with her church youth group to visit a Navajo Nation community in Arizona, but the trip was canceled due to a Covid outbreak.
Some Americans, especially younger ones, wonder if they want to celebrate Independence Day. A YouGov survey found that 56% of American adults plan to join in the festivities this year.
Of course, there are plenty of people, including celebrities, who are still in the patriotic spirit. Demi Lovato, Post Malone and Sheryl Crow are among the many artists who perform on CNN’s 4th of July special. Ja Rule performs live at Coney Island as part of an Independence Day celebration.
Marissa Viveri, 29, a tech product manager in Manhattan, remembers the last time she celebrated the 4th of July a few summers ago. She was heading to the Hamptons, she said, on the busiest Long Island Rail Road train she had ever ridden. “I didn’t get a seat and I was standing in the aisle,” she said, “and the toilet overflowed, and we all had to hold our bags.”
She realized that she had never liked vacations. “I remember even as a kid feeling bad for the animals during the fireworks,” she said.
Logistically, celebrating in New York poses challenges. “Either you’re in Manhattan, and it’s super hot, and you wonder where you’re watching the fireworks. Or you try to leave for the Jersey Shore or the Hamptons, and it’s makeshift and overcrowded,” Ms. Vivori said.
She also has political qualms with the holidays. “Last summer Roe v. Wade got canceled, and that really made me less inclined to celebrate,” she said.
Even if she wanted to celebrate, she would worry about the message it would send.
This year, she is therefore leaving American soil completely and heading instead to Italy and Great Britain. “I’ll be in London for the real Fourth,” she laughed. “The irony is not lost on me.”
Allison Bartella, 30, a publicist in Brooklyn, finally says no to a vacation she never liked.
“I feel like it’s kind of New Year’s Eve of the summer,” she said. “Expectations are high and they are usually not met.”
“The food is always sitting in the sun, and it’s hot, and you’re scared of random fireworks on the street, and it doesn’t go the way you want it to,” she said.
This year, she is staying in New York, where she plans to hit up a bar on the Lower East Side.
Some Americans are trying to come to terms with the fact that July 4 is no longer a unifying, common day.
Conner Miskowiec, 28, a content creator in Phoenix, decided to make a series of videos in which he asked strangers if they were going to celebrate Independence Day.
“I got it all, from ‘America is the greatest country in the world, and we need to celebrate the American dream’, to ‘This country has a lot to do, and America isn’t so free, and I do not do it. want to celebrate,'” he said. “I honestly didn’t expect to get the variety of responses I got.”
“I think a lot of people think America isn’t for everyone anymore, and so it’s not an inclusive vacation,” he said.
He posted the videos on Instagram and TikTok, where he received thousands of comments on some of them. “A lot of people were like, ‘Why are you asking such a question because it seemed like a ‘duh’ thing,” but I was like, ‘Watch the videos and you’ll see. “”
As for Ms. Tapp, she understands that rejecting the 4th of July is a new and difficult thing for some people. “I know a lot of people who feel like they have to be at every event, and they have to show their patriotism just to fit in or not get mad at them,” she said. “A lot of people get really defensive when you say you don’t want to celebrate the 4th of July because they think you don’t care about the soldiers who died or the things that made this country. “
So she posted a video on Instagram and TikTok reminding her followers that they don’t have to celebrate if they don’t want to, even if they feel pressured.
“It’s a very controversial party now,” she said, explaining why she did it. “We all have to decide for ourselves if we want to celebrate.”
Yet there are many traditions, new and old. The Nathan’s Hot Dog contest will crown a champion, and Walt Disney World is going all out with red, white, and blue fireworks at many of its parks. Melania Trump even released a set of NFTs in honor of Independence Day named the 1776 Collection.
Isaac Norbe, 40, who works in marketing in Seattle, understands why some people may feel down about America this year. “It’s very difficult to get into the 4th of July because of the Supreme Court rulings,” he said. “They also made tough decisions at this time last year, and that made it very difficult to celebrate.”
But he’s always loved the 4th of July – “It’s actually called the 4th of Jul-Isaac,” he laughed – and feels the same way this year. “It’s about celebrating your community and the community you create with the people around you,” he said.
For him, this is not the time to celebrate a specific holiday. “It’s about celebrating everyone in the country,” he said, “and it should be for everyone.”