#FalseFreedom: How can we celebrate freedom when we’re not truly free?

By Ariel Ellis – Contributing Writer

#FALSEFREEDOM is a social media protest taking place on the Fourth of July. This protest encourages all people of color who have personally experienced any form of police harassment or racial injustice to tell their story. It also encourages non-black supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement to mute themselves for the day in order to magnify these stories. This protest aims to explicate that the injustices don’t end with the faces we see in the media. This issue is much closer to home than many realize. It extends to your co-workers, neighbors, friends; many of the people you stand next to daily have been racially victimized in some way. These stories often go unheard.

I love my country. This protest was created in reverence of America. As American bodies lay in the streets and no
justice is served for the destruction of their lives, it is evident that there is a blatant disregard for our flag and
what it stands for. As I look at the faces of those slain Americans, I see myself. When I hear their stories I can’t
help but think of my own.

“License & registration, please.”
“Do any of you have a warrant? It’d be wise to tell me now.”
“Have any of you been drinking.”

Four black 20-somethings road tripping from Detroit to DC for Howard’s Homecoming. Along the way we
were stopped by police in a poky Ohio town where cell reception was minimal and cows were abundant.
We sat on the side of the road as two officers interrogated us for 40 minutes, stating that the area was
known for drug activity. They proceeded to ask each and every one of us for our ID’s. My ID was in my
purse in the back seat. I explained to the officer that I was going to reach into the back seat to retrieve
my wallet. As soon as I turned to grab it, the officer grabbed his gun. He screamed for me to put my
hands on the dashboard.

After checking our ID’s, they eventually sent us on our way. No ticket was issued because a citation
doesn’t exist for simply being black. But still, we incessantly lose our lives for it.

I wish I could say that was the first time I’ve had an officer grab his gun during a routine traffic stop. I
wish this story alone was enough to compel the privileged to act. And it saddens me that many of my
fellow Americans will use their love of the flag as a guise to deem all those who participate in this protest
unpatriotic. The fact of the matter is, I love my country, I’m just not sure my country loves me.

This protest is NOT intended to be anti-American. Its purpose is to demand that ALL AMERICANS be granted the civil liberties and rights promised to every American in the constitution of our United States. Its purpose is to further expose that, even more than it is expressed, black Americans have ad nauseam been the victims of a broken promise.

This protest is NOT intended to silence people of color or the Black Lives Matter movement. Its intent is to further heighten the movement by silencing a false celebration and magnifying black stories. Its intent is to encourage all people to take a clear and decisive stand on the issue: celebrate “freedom” that does not exist for all OR stand together and acknowledge that so many of us still are not free.

How to Participate

DATE: JULY 4, 2020


*BIPOC IG USERS: Post a portrait of yourself and tell your story — a time when you’ve
been discriminated against, racially profiled, or harassed because of your race. Use #FALSEFREEDOM

NON-BIPOC IG USERS: Refrain from posting all day, only repost to increase the
visibility of black stories.

AFTER YOU POST: Visit falsefreedom.us to sign petitions to support change, donate
to black causes, support black-owned businesses, and educate yourself.

*BIPOC: Black, indigenous, people of color

Ariel Ellis is a Black female film director from Detroit. She has directed commercials and social impact content for Crown Royal, Uprep Academy, and Huntington Bank. She also created Untold, a digital series that explores the philosophical and cultural approaches of various Detroit artists.

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