Last year, Independence Day celebrations were muted as the pandemic ravaged the world. Fast-forward 12 months and nearly 155 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, though the milestone has fallen short of President Joe Biden’s goal of achieving “independence from this virus” day by the Fourth of July. Still, the White House plans to hold a big bash ushering in the “summer of freedom” with a cookout on the South Lawn for more than 1,000 guests including many essential workers. Your party might not be quite that pumping, but you can still fire up the grill, watch the fireworks and — most importantly — see your family after an isolated and hug-free year. And what is July Fourth all about if not freedom? This Weekender helps you free your inner chef and rustle up some delectable holiday fare while also offering tips on clever ways to free your body, mind and spirit.
What better way to celebrate Independence Day — and beating the Brits — than with this take on their favorite posh dessert? Eton Mess may not be American, but its glorious colors — red from strawberries and raspberries, indigo from blueberries and white from meringue — most certainly are, so feel free to belt out “The Star-Spangled Banner” as you whip it up. It’s surprisingly easy to make — besides the fresh berries, all you need is crushed meringue (store-bought is A-OK) and lashings of fluffy whipped cream. The British may’ve gotten their just deserts in 1776, but this weekend, shoot for this spectacular dessert to wow your guests.
2. Forget Freedom fries
After the year we’ve had, it’s time to accelerate past the dreary hotdog-and-fries menu for July 4. Thanks to America’s melting pot of cultures, there’s an endless array of cuisines to choose from. Looking for a real conversation starter? Try Molly Yeh’s popcorn salad. The internet has been popping over the Food Network star’s divisive recipe, which the chef has called a “classic Midwestern” dish. Some critics have labeled the mix of popcorn, mayo, carrots and sugar snap peas a culinary crime, but innocent till proven guilty, right? Follow along as Yeh prepares the dish in this video to judge for yourself.
3. Southern Hospitality
If you find you’ve been salivating while watching Netflix’s High on the Hog, then we’ve got the perfect dish for you this Independence Day. But you’ll need to start the day before because this Southern classic must marinate overnight in a blend of savory seasonings. Come Sunday, just chuck those ribs on the grill and, when they’re just about done, slather on some barbecue sauce for that finger-licking deliciousness. Pair with soul food sides like braised collard greens and cornbread, and wash it all down with a tall glass of sweet tea or a citrusy margarita.
Join us in celebrating CROWN Day! We think all forms of beauty should be commended and welcomed everywhere. But societal bias, sadly, has led to criticism and discrimination against Black women based on their hair texture and hairstyles, including braids, locs and twists. A new Dove study found that Black women are 80% more likely to alter their natural hair to satisfy social norms or expectations. That’s why Dove co-founded the CROWN Coalition to advance anti-hair discrimination legislation called the CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act, a law prohibiting discrimination based on hair texture and hairstyle. Let’s work together to eradicate race-based hair discrimination nationwide.
Sunday may be Independence Day, but today is CROWN Day, which marks two years since California became the first state to sign legislation that was originally introduced by former state lawmaker Holly J. Mitchell prohibiting race-based hair discrimination in the workplace and schools. CROWN Day is short for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.” Black hair is beautiful, so ditch your straightener, say see-ya to long, costly hours at the salon, and embrace the au naturel look that was all the rage at this year’s Oscars and is favored by celebs from Viola Davis to Solange Knowles.
2. Hair as Art
Taiye Idahor, a millennial artist from Lagos, Nigeria, explores Black female identity through drawings and collages, with works that have been exhibited from Brooklyn to Dubai. A major recurring theme is Black hair. Her first solo exhibition, “Hairvolution,” consisted of artworks with sculptural braids weaved out of newsprint. Another show, “Going Back to My Roots,” featured collages of Black hair and surreal drawings depicting disembodied women with braids. In yet another collection, Idahor crafted dreads and Afros from discarded plastic. Fan of the hit TV show Empire? During a scene from season six, careful viewers noticed one of her works displayed in the background.
3. A Hair-Raising Tale
The Other Black Girl is a newly released debut novel that’s garnering high praise from reviewers and has been described as a literary mix of The Devil Wears Prada and Get Out. The author is Zakiya Dalila Harris, a 20-something writer from Connecticut who sports a natural fro, and her story centers on an ambitious Black editorial assistant at a prestigious New York publishing house. But a major theme running through the novel is the importance of hair products in the lives of Black women — and the anxiety some feel about their hair in more conservative corporate settings.
You know Kevin Smith as the iconic writer, director and actor behind cult favorites like Clerks and Chasing Amy. Today, the comic legend joins the show and opens up about how his near-deadly heart attack has changed his outlook on life, why he thought his wife was an escort sent to him by Chris Rock and why no one who knew him thought he would be successful. What does this comic book-inspired auteur have to say about the legacy of Stan Lee? Watch now to find out.
Some people dream they’re flying — “free as a bird,” as the saying goes — and the closest approximation in real life is to go paragliding. The rush of adrenaline that comes from running off a cliff and sailing out over the world below is one of the most liberating feelings you’ll ever experience. Whichever state you’re in, there’s likely a place nearby where you can go tandem paragliding. You could make the trip to Las Vegas for arid desert views or head to Hawaii to soar over azure waters. Make your dreams come true! (Not to worry: You’ll be partnered with an experienced glider.)
2. Get Tattooed
Along with natural hair, plus-size fashion and the pandemic trend of not shaving your armpits, the bottom line is it’s your body and you should feel great about it. Lately, more and more people seem to be adorning their bodies with tattoos. Once considered the territory of sailors and the Hell’s Angels, body art is popping up on everyone from royals to corporate careerists to NBA stars and Olympians. Proponents say this form of self-expression is incredibly freeing, and should you change your mind someday, you’re also free to have it removed.
3. Catch a Wave
What is it about water that soothes the soul and frees the spirit? Surfing is so therapeutic that an NGO in conflict-ridden Somalia is using it to help rehabilitate former child soldiers. While riding a wave, it’s easy to forget your troubles on land and connect with something bigger — like the vast blue ocean. Be forewarned, though: Getting up on a board is not as easy as the pros make it look, so if you’re a first-timer, best to take a few lessons before heading out on your own.
If the party’s at your place this weekend, then how better to show your patriotic pride than with colorful decorations? Set the tone right out of the gate by welcoming your guests with an inviting table layout heavy on the stars and stripes and awash in red, white and blue.
2. Watch in Style
What’s July Fourth without fireworks? Wherever you plan to watch the display, make sure to have the right blanket. Pretty is nice, but even better is a blanket that’s waterproof, just in case someone spills their drink amid all the excitement. This one is beverage-proof and machine-washable, and even after the festivities are over, you can use it for picnics in the park, camping or outdoor festivals.
3. Rockets’ Red Glare
Do not panic if you don’t have the requisite Independence Day outfit. You’ll have your bases covered with a killer red lipstick, white T-shirt and blue jeans. Celebrate your freedom to wear what you want — and look fabulous doing it.