We have choices. We make decisions everyday. We can choose what we wear, what we eat, what we study, who we marry. Well, not all of us. In the United States there is freedom and that is a sought after right around the world. But today, in 2020 I have more questions than ever about what freedom means and what decisions are made for us.
On the 4th of July, the U.S. celebrates Independence Day. On that day in 1776 the Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies were no longer subject (and subordinate) to the monarch of Britain, King George III, and were now united, free, and independent states. I remember as a kid my brother got a bicentennial bicycle with a big banana seat (as they called it then) and red, white and blue plastic strings attached to the handle bars. It was 1976 and I had no idea what Independence Day meant other than a parade, barbecue and fireworks.
Fast forward to July 2020 and it feels a bit like an apocalypse. There is a health pandemic wreaking havoc on our country and the world, record unemployment, civil unrest, protests and general uncertainty. Everyone is feeling it no matter where you live or how much money or status you have no one is immune to this twilight zone perfect storm of catastrophe.
I cannot for a minute comprehend the heartbreak that so many families are going through right now, whether due to COVID-19 deaths or businesses that may not be able to weather the pandemic tornado of economic damage. Shear panic and grief is like a cloud right over our heads and it is not going away. The news anchors keep talking about a 'new normal' but I can't get that wrapped around my head because I just want things to go back to the way they were.
But do I? Actually doI want things to go back to the way they were just a few months ago? Let me think about that for a minute. OK, first of all what I would like to have happened is no deaths, that's for sure. But the explosion of issues coming to a head now I think may be a bit of a silver lining to this whack-a-mole year.
Let's look at some hard truths. The issues of race, police brutality, Black Lives Matter movement, #MeToo, gender equality and the gender pay gap, a crumbling healthcare infrastructure imbalance, Confederate flag and monuments review, discrimination and injustices are all components that have been pushed under the rug for the last 50 years or so and finally being addressed.
What is freedom? Do all Americans feel free to speak their mind without fear of reproach or being silenced? Who has had to bite their tongue about being denied something so they didn't call attention to themselves? It's about time we all took a good long look at our country and made some changes.
Let's look a little bit broader now. Not all countries live in a free society. Discrimination for girls and women and racial or caste bias exists in many countries. Women don't have the same rights as men, some cannot work, own property or even leave the house without a male family member to escort them. In South Africa there was no Bill of Rights until 1996 when Nelson Mandela signed it into law and is touted as the best in the world based on the expanse of freedoms it protects. But black women in South Africa still maintain disadvantages due to their gender and race.
In 2012 a 15 year old girl was shot in the head on her school bus by a masked man because she was speaking out about girls inability to attend school or be educated. That girl was Malala Yousafzai. Her Malala Fund "supports the work of education champions in developing countries and speeds up progress towards girls' secondary education around the world." https://www.malala.org/gulmakai-network?sc=header
When I founded Bosisi Designs in 2019 my goal was to make a difference in the lives of underserved women. For women to gain financial freedom so they can live better lives, educate their children and change the cycle of poverty. For women to be free to choose how they live and not have to defer to anyone else just because of their race and gender. Our mission at Bosisi is to give women an opportunity to work and earn a decent living.
Freedom is power. Freedom is independence. In the U.S. we are uncovering what our country was founded on and the inconsistencies and half-truths it legitimized. I am thankful for what I have but angry that everyone is not afforded true equality. But we're getting there, albeit slowly. Now is the time to make it right and not be hypocritical. Step into someone else's shoes and try to understand where they're coming from and what they are really saying.
I want Bosisi Designs to equal freedom for underserved women. I want women to feel empowered and know that they can do anything they want to do. All they need (sometimes) is an opportunity. But it's bigger than Bosisi and it's not just women who need equality. It's all people, humanity, really that must have equal rights. Let's right the ship for this country and show the world that the United States does stand for freedom and equality for all its citizens.
This Independence Day let's think about what it means to be free, to be empowered, to be educated, to be strong, independent people who are kind, thoughtful and selfless.