As A Black American, I Don’t Celebrate The Fourth Of July
I don’t really celebrate the Fourth of July. However, I don't knock those who do.
As a child, I was always emotionally apathetic to the spectacular display of fireworks and the school lessons on the history of America’s independence. The most exciting thing about this time of year, for me, are the cookouts comprised of meats simmering away on the grill and the communal spirit of breaking bread with family members not seen for months.
In school, the story of Independence Day comprised a rather large portion of our American History curriculum. I learned and memorized the key players in the American Revolution and if remember correctly I was given a typed copy of the Declaration of Independence to study for quizzes and tests. But never once in my school career did anyone mention Frederick Douglass’ famous "What to the Slave Is The Fourth of July," decrying the Fourth of July jubilation. Perhaps the spirit of resistance and revolt were only pertinent when it came to how America won its independence, not to how America achieved and maintained its power — through the rod and whip of slavery. Hmmmm...
While a big part of my history grade for the 6 weeks, I have to ask... what, to us, is the Fourth of July when our freedoms are consistently infringed upon by a government meant to uphold those very freedoms? I was never asked that particular test question nor was I prepared to answer it. What, to us, is the Fourth of July when our freedoms are provisional and subject to alteration and perhaps even subject to denial? COME ON SOMEBODY?!? What does the Fourth of July actually stand for? Does it mean something? Or is it an empty promise? Hmmmm....
Douglass said in his speech. ...This Fourth of July is yours, not mine.
“The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me,”
His assertions are ones we must meditate on when the time comes to pull out the fireworks and light up the grill. These are assertions we must teach our children BEFORE HISstory is given in history class.
So, with that said... I will rock my Juneteenth shirt that says "Because my ancestors weren't free in 1776" and I will eat whatever is cooked and enjoy whatever entertainment is nearby.