July 4, 1776 is the date our precious, stolen country celebrates its independence from Great Britain. All that fighting over taxation and tea and the Revolutionary War happening, we were finally free! Our nation’s Forefathers signed that venerable document and the rest is history. The United States of America from thirteen colonies.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”
Well, a few years later, in 1852, our good ol’ abolitionist friend and freed slave, Frederick Douglass gives a speech to a predominately white audience. This famous speech as we know it is called, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” In his oratory, Douglass talks to the audience about how 76-years prior, the nation was founded and that the Fourth of July was a time to celebrate its independence. Douglass then goes on to make the point that the people in the room were able to celebrate because they were white and free. Slaves, on the other hand, were considered property and had no reason to celebrate being in bondage in a country they built. You can find the link to the entire speech (its a great read) Here!!!!
To this day, we see the effects of slavery in everyday policies and practices in our country. For example, as we know, our country imprisons more people than any other country in the world. Majority of those people are Black and Brown. Black and Brown people are more likely to get longer sentences for the same crime as white people and longer sentences for non-violent drug offenses. The police are literally lynching unarmed Black people in the streets and on video and are not held accountable in the justice system. Collin Kaepernick took a knee on the football field sidelines during the National Anthem to protest the unjust killings of unarmed Black people in America. He challenged the system and the system banned him from the NFL. The tried to ruin his character calling him unpatriotic. In other words, “that boy disrespected Massa”.
We see it in our educational system and low-income neighbors in our cities. We know which schools get the most money for resources and updated technology and we know the schools that don’t. It’s a never ending cycle. Yes, we’re free but the system is still set up to see our demise. This is why we must continue to speak up and out about our rights as people in this country. Everything we need to know is at our disposal. We can use our voices to make a difference for ourselves and communities.
I personally, don’t dress up in red, white, and blue anymore on July 4th. When I was a kid, I definitely did because I didn’t know any better. Don’t get me wrong, I love living in America. I have no desire to live in any other country (unless the job was good and they had good food). I am privileged in my own ways but that hasn’t stopped racism from making its way to my front door plenty of times.
A holiday that they don’t teach us in our history books is Juneteeth. I just learned about Juneteeth back in 2009. I went to a Juneteenth barbeque at my undergrad. June 19, 1865 was the day more than 200,000 slaves in Texas found out they were free from bondage. This was three years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln freeing Blacks in America. Then came the Reconstruction Era and the KKK made their presence known and the development of prisons and you know the rest.
Anywho, Juneteeth is a day I’ve seen more and more Black people embrace over July 4th. This is a day where the last of our people were in chains…per se. It’s a time where the jerk chicken is on the grill and the music is loud in a park somewhere. We come together to celebrate our independence and our liberation. Juneteeth is Tuesday, June 19, 2018. I encourage you to go out and celebrate you…us.
❤ Queen T