What does July 4th mean to the average American of African descent? With today’s police brutality on the rise, the lives of the once enslaved has changed in one aspect (relating to citizenship) yet remains the same in the mistreatment of unarmed black Americans. The resulting effect has left questions of the holiday’s founding intentions along with the worthiness of genuine patriotism.
In order to understand the role of “Independence Day” in the lives of black Americans, we must first examine the intentions of this nation’s forefathers. With the creation of Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights, each document exclusively served as propositions of freedoms for rich white men with property. Women, Jewish people, poor people and those of African, Native American or “other” decent, were not included in receiving the freedoms proposed during this country’s birth.
While the nation’s forefathers were drafting the Declaration of Independence as its first proposed document of freedom from the British, people of African decent simultaneously endured enslavement where they wouldn’t be viewed anything other than property for the next 100 years.
In today’s celebration of July 4th, a person of African decent (in particular) should question exactly what they are celebrating. Is it to assist in celebrating a freedom that was only intended for their oppressors? Is it simply a trend because “everyone else is doing it”? Is it to sweep the past under the rug to help America disguise her shameful past? Or is it to change the narrative and reclaim what wasn’t naturally intended for black people?
Whether a person chooses to rationalize their reasoning for celebrating July 4th or not, it should still be considered at some point. The blood, sweat and tears of African ancestors lie at the feet of this holiday and should not be ignored.
As another forced holiday implemented by the government to be celebrated along with the distasteful likeness of others (such as Columbus Day), Black people who choose to simply use the holiday as a day of leisure should be understood by others. Until “Juneteenth” or any other day is recognized nationally as a holiday exclusively to support the freedoms of black people in particular-to the ones who care: July 4th will continue to be seen less as an ode to patriotism and more as an opportunity to sit home from work.