Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy Independence Day

The AUC, Egyptian and American flags flying on The American University in Cairo main campus (2010).

African Americans have a history of slavery in the United States. And though we've come a long way since the days of slavery, in some ways, it seems we haven't gone far at all.

Still, I take comfort in the 4th of July in the U.S. Freedom and independence have more value to me now that I live and work in Cairo, Egypt. The difference between the two countries is exponential as it relates to freedom and independence. The fact that Egyptians can not gather freely in public as a result of Egypt's emergency law is astounding to me. I am surprised by the limits of that law because for all of my life I have enjoyed the right to do whatever I want, where ever I want, whenever I want in America as long as it legal.

As a journalist, I have also enjoyed the right to write and published my thoughts and opinions freely and w/out repercussions. You can do this in Egypt, but there might be some backlash as in what might seem like a random pickup by police. Bloggers who speak the truth about government corruption might be detained or jailed anywhere from two hours to two weeks.

I love living and working in Cairo. I love the weather, the constant sunshine. I love my job teaching young Egyptians about working in the media (even w/the restrictions on the press). I like the culture and the spirit of the people. But I live my life there knowing that I am an American citizen AND a university professor. That means I will probably still receive some privilege that is not extended to Egyptians. Keyword: might.

During my time in Egypt I hope to see some changes; small changes really. I like the bravery of Egyptian bloggers as they detail the wrongs of the Egyptian government. I'm proud of the diligent protesters who put their lives on the line for better opportunities for all Egyptians. In some ways, the current climate in Egypt reminds me of the civil rights struggles of the 60s in the States. I'm hopeful that Egyptians will witness the kind of change that African Americans in the U.S. have witnessed in the past few decades. I hope that they'll be able to see the progress, yet know that there's still lots of progress to be made.

Today is Independence Day in the United States and I am proud to be an American.
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