7 Ways to Celebrate July 4th if You're Fed Up With America

If you're not feeling the whole "America is great" thing, here are some alternative ways to spend your Independence Day.

America has always been the land of the free—unless you're, well, anybody but a white male. Now, even if you are a white male, you're probably either feeling marginalized because everyone hates you for colonizing the world and bringing it to the edge of climate apocalypse or you're fed up with our current leader as he gallivants around North Korea.

No matter who you are, it's quite likely that you're feeling less than optimistic about the state of our nation, and maybe you don't want to cheer while fireworks rain down and the national anthem plays on the 4th of July. If that's the case, here are seven ways to celebrate your own anti-Independence Day.

Image via eye of the cyclone

1. Take a summer road trip down to the U.S.-Mexico Border to protest our government's imprisonment of children

What could be better than a road trip to celebrate this great nation, with its expansive network of highways, endless fast food stops, and quirky roadside attractions? This July 4, cue up a fun playlist, fill up the gas tank, and set off on an exciting journey to one of the many "concentration camps" in which the U.S. government is keeping migrants at the border.

You could even live out your On The Road dreams and make a whole cross-country odyssey of it, starting from the Elizabeth Detention Center in New Jersey and making your way to the flu and lice-ridden center in Clint, Texas. From there you can travel along the famous Route 66 to El Barretal, the overflowing abandoned nightclub in Tijuana where huge numbers of people slept without roofs over their heads. Then, you can dip back up to California for a jaunt through the Redwoods, stopping along the way at the many for-profit California ICE facilities that have been holding prisoners for months or years at a time.

After all, what could be more American than separating children from their families and imprisoning non-white people on questionable legal grounds and at disproportionate rates? Tequila shots on Mexico!

2. Have a picnic in Missouri in front of the last remaining Planned Parenthood in the state

The 4th of July is the perfect excuse to take a leisurely journey to Missouri. You can start out with a visit to St. Louis, then spend the afternoon drinking lemonade and watching the sun set in front of the state's only remaining abortion clinic. Though the state ordered it to close, the Planned Parenthood has managed to hang on, securing a stay of proceedings that will allow its doors to remain open until August.

To make the perfect July 4th celebration, be sure to bring an all-American spread of hamburgers, hot dogs, coleslaw, protest signs, and bulletproof vests. You may have to fend off a few angry Evangelicals, but you'll also get to witness women rushing to get abortions while knowing that should this clinic close, come August 24th it will be illegal for them to get abortions after 8 weeks of pregnancy, even in the case of rape or incest. Who needs the separation of church and state, anyway? Obviously both of these organizations have everyone's best interests at heart!

3. Get wasted in one of New York City's many corporatized gay bars, then light some fireworks outside Trump Tower

New York City is the best place to celebrate the true spirit of the land of the free, where everyone is supposed to be able to pursue life, liberty, and happiness (as long as they're a white male). If you visit New York, you might catch the last vestiges of Pride Month before companies take down their rainbow flags for the rest of the year, because obviously gay people only exist in June.

You can celebrate the true spirit of American independence—being able to make as much money as possible even, or especially, if you're profiting off exploitation of marginalized groups—by visiting T. Mobile or Citibank or any of the other corporate bodies that have grown wise to the profit potential of queerness (as long as it fits into a non-disruptive, cisgender construct).

Afterwards, drink away your ennui at one of NYC's many gay bars, which were originally formed as spaces of refuge for queer people but now serve as the perfect destination for straight women to bring their boyfriends or celebrate their girls' nights out.

Once you've downed enough watered-down $17 cocktails and are feeling reckless, take a stroll over to Trump Tower and show your love for our President by doing whatever you, in your drunken state, see fit. If that includes lighting fireworks outside the lobby while screaming at the top of your lungs, go for it. You may spend the rest of your life in prison, but what could be more American than that?!

4. Visit a black history museum—any black history museum

Did you know that black people are still facing the economic and sociopolitical consequences of that time when white Americans kidnapped and enslaved them? This year, you could celebrate the true hypocrisy of Independence Day by deepening your understanding of this nation's legacy and visiting any black history museum, or reading any Langston Hughes poem.

Independence Day: a poorly thought-out glorification of a country founded on an ethos of colonization and unchecked consumption? Who would've thought? Luckily, all you have to do is turn to a random page in any reasonably accurate history book for proof that America is the product of a long, long series of injustices.

5. Burn a Confederate flag in front of one of America's many statues of Confederate leaders

Did you know that this proud nation still boasts 718 memorials and monuments to the Confederacy? That's right, the same Confederacy that fought to the death so they could continue enslaving the people they kidnapped, tortured, and sold as property still remains immortalized across the country, and many of its monuments are meticulously preserved, courtesy of your tax dollars.

For a fun July 4th adventure, you could steal Confederate flags from Southerners' lawns and burn them in front of the statue of Robert E. Lee in our nation's capital or at any of the 10 U.S. military bases named after Confederate leaders. Or, you could drive along the Jefferson Davis highway, or you could cut to the chase and visit any of the 107 Confederate monuments in Alabama. Of course, modern America doesn't have a racist bone in its body, and these statues are just nostalgic testaments to a bygone era when this nation was great!

6. Visit a Native American reservation to remember that this country was founded on the blood of the people that existed peacefully for thousands of years before European colonizers sailed in and killed them all

Remember when Christopher Columbus, that sociopath who started a genocide and was instrumental in creating slavery, had a federal holiday named after him? Oh wait, that's still true! Columbus Day is Monday, October 14th, and though it's not a day off in all states, it's still a legal observance day in a few states, including that embodiment of American class and excellence, Florida.

If you want to celebrate Columbus's legacy in all its gory reality, you could stop by a Native American reservation—or maybe pay a visit to Standing Rock, where a massive cross-cultural protest failed to stop the installation of the Dakota Access Pipeline. While there, you might take a moment of silence to honor the fact that the U.S. is completely dependent on crude oil and that fossil fuel-funded super PACs essentially run our political elections.

7. Host a 2020 election preparation party

In all seriousness, America isn't the easiest nation to be proud of right now. However, 2020 will mark a time when we the people can actually come together to form a (slightly) more perfect union. Whether that more perfect union will be shaped by Elizabeth Warren's plans, Marianne Williamson's cosmic force field of love, or another four years of Trump tweets is up to us.

This 4th of July, if you're unhappy with the state of America, you could host a presidential candidate speech-viewing party or a climate change discussion group. Just frame the event as a fun picnic with watermelon and fireworks, but when all your conservative neighbors show up, slam 'em with a dramatic reading of AOC's Green New Deal.

As the liquor starts flowing, start collecting signatures for your favorite candidate or political cause. Then host the adults-only after-party at a protest against an ICE raid or another incident of police brutality. Because after all, despite all its flaws, for now America is still a place where everybody has the right to be very, very angry.

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It's no secret that the restaurant scene in New York City is one of the most impressive in the world.

Whatever you could want to eat, you can find it in New York—meaning that even if you have a slightly restrictive diet, like veganism, there's plenty of options for you. Local fast-casual chains like By Chloe and Superiority Burger are making New York one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the world, but the deliciousness doesn't stop there.

Between Manhattan and Brooklyn, there's been a boom of vegan restaurants that'll satisfy any craving. Here are just a few of our favorites.

Blossom(Upper West Side + Greenwich Village)

vegan restaurant

With two locations serving both Uptown and Downtown, Blossom is a go-to for local and tourist vegans alike. They offer an elevated dining experience (and a wide-spanning takeout radius) that puts a cruelty-free spin on classic main dishes like chicken piccata, rigatoni, and grilled salmon. Complete your dinner with a fresh, fruity cocktail and tiramisu—but reservations are strongly recommended beforehand.

Jajaja (West Village + Lower East Side)

vegan Jajaja

Jajaja is the ultimate heaven for Mexican food addicts. Get your fix of south of the border staples like burritos, street tacos, and enchiladas that'll make you second guess whether or not it's actually vegan (pro tip: The nacho portion is large enough to be a meal for one person). They also have a small but mighty menu of tequila and mezcal cocktails to kick off a night of LES bar-hopping. It gets crowded here quickly, though, so try to schedule your dinner early.

Urban Vegan Kitchen(West Village)

Urban Vegan Kitchen

We get it—eating vegan can get kind of bland sometimes. But that's not an issue at Urban Vegan Kitchen, the type of restaurant that'll have you wanting to order one of everything on the menu (but we recommend the "chicken" and waffles). Co-owned by the founder of Blossom, they boast a menu that's just as edgy and exciting as their decor. Their space is large too, making it a crowd-pleasing option for a slightly larger group.

Champs Diner (Williamsburg)

Champs Diner vegan

Located near the border of hip neighborhoods Williamsburg and Bushwick, Champs is a favorite of many young Brooklynites. Their menu is full of vegan alternatives to classic diner fare like breakfast plates, cheeseburgers, and even milkshakes that taste mysteriously like the real deal, while the decor puts a quintessential Brooklyn edge on '50s digs. Who said going plant-based had to be healthy all the time, anyway?

Peacefood (Greenwich Village)

vegan Peacefood

Conveniently located just a stone's throw from Union Square—near both NYU and the New School—Peacefood is a hotspot for college students, but vegans of any age are guaranteed to enjoy their menu. They specialize in comfort food items like quiche, chicken parmesan, and chili with corn bread—all plant-based, of course. While their "chicken" tender basket is to die for, make sure to save room for dessert here, too; Peacefood's lengthy pastry menu is a dream come true.

Buddha Bodai (Chinatown)

Buddha Bodai vegan

Dim sum restaurants in Chinatown are a dime a dozen, but Buddha Bodai takes the cake for the best veggie-friendly experience in one of New York's most bustling neighborhoods. Bring your family or friends along with you to enjoy this massive menu of buns and dumplings stuffed with any type of mock meat you could want. This is also a great option for gluten-free vegans, too, as much of their menu accommodates a gluten-free diet.

Greedi Kitchen (Crown Heights)

Greedi Kitchen vegan

Crown Heights might not be the first neighborhood people think of when it comes to dining in Brooklyn, but Greedi Kitchen is making the case for delicious restaurants in the area. Inspired by its founder's many years of travel, Greedi Kitchen combines the comforting flavors of southern soul food with the added pizazz of global influences. Try one of their po'boys or the crab cake sliders. Trust us.

Screamer’s Pizzeria (Greenpoint + Crown Heights)

Screamer's Pizza vegan

We know what you're thinking: Pizza without real cheese? Call us crazy, but Screamer's does vegan pizza to perfection. If you're into classic pies like a simple margherita or pepperoni, or you want to branch out with unexpected topping combinations, Screamer's is delicious enough to impress carnivores, too (pro tip: the Greenpoint location is small and serves most pies by the slice, while the Crown Heights location is larger for sitting down).

Learning a second language is one of the coolest and most rewarding things you can do in your spare time.

However, if hopping on a one-way ticket to your country of choice isn't an option for you, it can be difficult to find an immersive experience to learn, especially past high school or college.

The next best thing is language-learning apps.

We wanted to look at the top two: DuoLingo and Rosetta Stone. Duolingo is the new kid on the block; one of the top downloaded, this free app is a favorite. Then, there's the legacy option: Rosetta Stone. For over 20 years, they've been developing their language-learning software, and their app is the most recent innovation.

They're both great options, but keep reading to figure out which one is the best for you.

Key Similarities

  • Both claim you'll expand your vocabulary
  • Both are available as an app for iOS and Android users
  • Both have a clean user interface with appealing graphics
  • Both have offline capabilities (if you pay)

Key Differences

  • DuoLingo has a popular free version along with its paid version, whereas Rosetta Stone only has a paid version
  • DuoLingo offers 35+ languages, and Rosetta Stone offers 24 languages
  • Rosetta Stone has an advanced TruAccent feature to detect and correct your accent
  • DuoLingo offers a breadth of similar vocab-recognizing features, and Rosetta Stone offers a wider variety of learning methods, like Stories

DuoLingo Overview

DuoLingo's app and its iconic owl have definitely found a place in pop culture. One of the most popular free language-learning apps, it offers 35 different languages, including Klingon, that can be learned through a series of vocabulary-matching games.

DuoLingo offers a free version and a version for $9.99 a month without ads and with offline access.

Rosetta Stone Overview

The Rosetta Stone app is a beast. There are 24 different languages to choose from, but more importantly, you get a huge variety of methods for learning. Not only are there simple games, but there are stories where you get to listen, the Seek and Speak feature, where you go on a treasure hunt to photograph images and get the translations, and the TruAccent feature, which will help you refine your accent. Whenever you speak into the app, you'll get a red/yellow/green rating on your pronunciation, so you can fine-tune it to really sound like you have a firm grasp of the language.

Rosetta Stone costs just $5.99 a month for a 24-month subscription, which gives you access to all of their 24 languages!

Final Notes

Overall, these are both excellent apps for increasing your proficiency in a new language! They both feel quite modern and have a fun experience.

When it comes to really committing words to memory and understanding them, Rosetta Stone is king.

DuoLingo definitely will help you learn new words, and the app can be addicting, but users report it as more of a game than a means to an end.

With Rosetta Stone's variety of features, you'll never get bored; there are more passive elements and more active elements to help you activate different parts of your brain, so you're learning in a more dynamic and efficient way.

The folks at Rosetta Stone are extending a special offer to our readers only: Up To 45% Off Rosetta Stone + Unlimited Languages & Free Tutoring Sessions!


So You Want to Try Workaway

Want to travel cheap, meet locals and kindred spirits, live off the land, and possibly change your life? It might be time to try Workaway.

Sitting in a house on a hill in Tuscany, Italy, watching the sun set and listening to the sound of music coming from the house in which I was staying almost rent-free, I wondered how I had gotten this lucky.

Actually, it was really all thanks to one website—Workaway.info.

Workaway Workaway

Workaway is a site that sets travelers up with hosts, who provide visitors with room and board in exchange for roughly five hours of work each weekday. The arrangement varies from host to host—some offer money, others require it—but typically, the Workaway experience is a rare bird: a largely anti-capitalist exchange.

I did four Workaways the summer I traveled in Europe, and then one at a monastery near my home in New York the summer after. Each experience, though they lasted around two weeks each, was among the most enriching times of my life—and I'd argue I learned almost as much through those experiences as I did in four years of college.

There's something extremely special about the Workaway experience, though it's certainly not for everyone.

Workaway Isn't for Everyone: What to Know Before You Go

I loved all the Workaways I went on, but the best advice I can give to anyone considering going is: Enter with an open mind. If you're someone who doesn't do well with the unexpected, if you're not willing to be flexible, if you're a picky eater or easily freaked out, then it's likely that you won't have a good experience at a Workaway.

There are exceptions to all of this. At the Workaway I stayed at in Italy, one of the travelers was suffering from stomach bloating, and the host helped cure her with a diet of miso. (I'm not saying you should go Workawaying if you're ill—this traveler's mother also came to oversee everything—but still, you never know what you'll find).

Workaway WoIsango.com

You should also probably be willing and able to actually work at your Workaway. These aren't vacations, and some hosts will be stricter and less forgiving than others regarding your work ethic. If you're someone who has no experience with difficult farm work, for example, it might not be a good idea to do a Workaway on a farm.

How to Choose a Host

The Workaway website boasts a truly overwhelming number of hosts. You can narrow your search down by location, but you can also search key terms that can help guide you in the right direction. You might search "music," for example—that's how I found the Italy location. You'll find hosts in busy cities and in the most remote mountains of India; you'll find opportunities to tutor and explore. You'll find shadiness, too, so trust your instincts.

Take time to actually read the host's entire bio before reaching out. Read all the comments, too, and if you're nervous or a first-timer, only reach out to hosts who have exclusively glowing reviews. I had the best experiences with hosts that had left extremely detailed bios—that showed me they were likely going to be dedicated hosts.

I also chose hosts whose bios gave me a good feeling, something like a spark of electricity or recognition. This instinctual method might not work for everyone, but it certainly led me in the right direction in all of my Workaway experiences. My Workaways gave me some of the best memories and deepest relationships of my life, and that was partly thanks to the fact that I chose places that were good fits for me.

For example, I chose to stay alone with a wizened academic in France. Something about his bio and descriptions resonated with me enough to trust him. (I also read some of his many thousand-page-long treatises on peace and compassion and decided that if someone could write this and be a psychopath, this wasn't a world I wanted to live in anyway). It was the right decision—and the two weeks I spent there were some of the most enlightening of my entire life.

When you reach out to a host, particularly if it's someone you really want to stay with, it's a good idea to frame your initial contact email as a cover letter of sorts—make sure you explain who you are and personalize your letter to fit each host.

Ixcanaan A Workaway painting experienceWorkaway

Travel Safely

Especially if you're traveling alone, it's always a good idea to choose a host whose page has tons of good reviews. Aside from that, a quick Google search and a scan of any social media pages related to your potential host can't hurt.

Ultimately, Workawaying requires a certain amount of trust and faith on both the host and the traveler's parts—you're either trusting someone to stay in your home or trusting a stranger to host and feed you.

But that trust, in my experience, also results in rapid and deep connections unlike anything I've experienced in the "real world." When you go and share a home with someone, you're also sharing yourself with them, and in that exchange there are the seeds of a powerful bond.

Participate Fully

Wherever you go, you'll want to open your mind and participate fully. Adjust yourself to your host's lifestyle, not the other way around, and take time to get to know your host and the others around you.

You might find that you become someone you never knew you were. As a lifelong introvert, I somehow managed to develop close relationships with many of the people I was staying with.

This might be because most people who are at Workaways are seeking something for one reason or another. In my experience, you find lots of people who are at junctures in their lives, seeking connection and meaning. With the right Workaway, you might just find it.

Workaway The Broke Backpacker - WorkawayThe Broke Backpacker