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As the Fourth of July approaches, many of us reminiscence about what it means to be an American. There is a lot to love about our country, and many things that make America great. But despite this, we struggle to overcome certain problems. One of the primary challenges facing our country is our culture of violence. This violence takes many forms, from the racist acts of terrorism in Charleston to school shootings to politically motivated attacks. These acts of violence are despicable, and we deplore them. The underlying causes of these forms of violence are varied, and a deeper topic than we can address in one blog post. But we can address a shockingly common type of violence that occurs every day, in every community across the United States: gender violence. Domestic violence and sexual assault are far too prevalent in our country, and the effects ripple out across society, causing the cycle of violence to continue. But we do have the power to end this form of violence, through our words and actions. Together, we can be part of a new American spirit of non-violence.

In this new kind of patriotism, the focus is on respect and healthy relationships with others. This means that you don’t tell a sexist or misogynistic joke, or make derogatory comments about others. If someone else says something offensive, you do not remain silent. You recognize others’ right to bodily integrity, and do not touch anyone without their consent. You never hit or use violence for any reason. You consume media consciously, avoiding television, advertisements, books and movies that degrade or objectify women. You make an active choice to join the fight to end gender violence, and then you put your pledge into action by taking concrete steps in your everyday life to combat gender violence. You educate yourself about domestic violence, sexual assault, and other forms of violence. You give back to your community. Quite simply, you decide to be be a patriot by making our country a better place for everyone. That is the new American spirit — a strong commitment to non-violence and a willingness to back up that commitment with action!

If you want to join our #NewAmericanSpirit, follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Throughout the month of July, we’ll be posting tips for how you can join our mission. And of course, we would love to see YOUR ideas — just post or tweet with the hashtag #NewAmericanSpirit. In the meantime, if you want to show patriotic spirit, start by taking the pledge to end gender violence and becoming a conscious consumer of media. You can also volunteer for Blackburn Center or donate to help us continue our mission to end gender violence. This Fourth of July, take your patriotism to a new level — be a part of the #NewAmericanSpirit!

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