It’s the 4th of July here in the good ol’ U.S. of A., which means many Americans are celebrating Independence Day in some form or fashion with parades, fireworks shows, and family barbecues featuring red-white-and-blue desserts.
For many, this holiday meant to celebrate “freedom” is a source of mixed feelings. In addition to the festivities, Independence Day has been a site of protest for the past two centuries—a time for Americans to air their grievances about the ways in which not all of us are truly free.
This year is no different. Across the country, many women and reproductive justice advocates are boycotting the 4th as a way to mourn lost rights with the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade. As one meme puts it, “The 4th of July has been canceled due to a shortage of independence.”
For the first part of today’s show, WORT producer Richelle Wilson talks about the contested meaning of Independence Day with anthropologist Sophie Bjork-James.
Then, Richelle is joined by WORT news reporter Nate Carlin to host a lively open line where callers share their own opinions about Independence Day—and, of course, politics.
Sophie Bjork-James is assistant professor of anthropology at Vanderbilt University, where her research focuses on race and racism, white nationalism, the religious right in the U.S., and reproductive politics. She is co-editor of Beyond Populism: Angry Politics and the Twilight of Neoliberalism (West Virginia University Press, 2020) and author of The Divine Institution: White Evangelicalism’s Politics of the Family (Rutgers University Press, 2021).