This is my America.
Where three white Mississippians stand in the heat and praise the knowledge of Raul, a landscape artist, because he knows what the heck he’s doing in this demanding climate. Because, in my America, we value competence, period.
Where all the windows on the antique stores and clothing stores and breakfast hang-outs in our small town sport “All are Welcome” signs in rainbow-flag colors. Because, in my America, when we say we are hospitable, we mean it.
Where I close the cover of a novel and sigh, realizing I’ve lived long enough to see the literary torch pass from old White men to young Black women. Because, in my America, we listen to the stories of those willing to tell them.
Where my priest ends the Bible study by insisting we each are loved and called to act in love and, when we do act in love, it isn’t even us loving, it is God loving through us. Because, in my America, God is love.
Where my dentist—twice—examines my teeth and assures me they are fine and refuses to charge me, not even for the x-ray. This is also my America: where I take the dentist’s office a plate of chocolate chip cookies (with pecans) to thank them for their graciousness. Because, in my America, we are kind, even in business, and kindness is reciprocated.
Where I can teach my grandson how incredibly smart you have to be to get by every day as an adult who cannot read and how incredibly industrious you have to be to get by living on the streets. Because, in my America, we aren’t defined by our circumstances, and we know this country was built by those who had to fight their circumstances every durn step of the way.
Where those who cannot agree on the time of day gather together to plant palm trees up and down the beach because, in my America, they love the Gulf waters they’ve been given to live on.
Where we honor with banners down Main Street those who have served this country well, and on July the 4th, in my America, we churn homemade ice cream with our friends and neighbors and think not about the horror of war but celebrate the values those men and women fought to protect.
This is my America. May blessings be on it and you and yours this Fourth of July in America.