People are writing well thought out, well researched pieces about how far we’ve come as a people, as a society, as a country since July 4th 1776. This isn’t that. I’m disappointed, despondent, angry and fatigued to say the least. It’s all due to everything that I see today, the more I learn of this country’s history. The duplicitousness, the hypocrisy the arrogance on full display is sickening.
America, what if the country you celebrated doesn’t exist? What if the very things you praise about the country means the exact opposite to roughly 20% of the population. The freedom you claim means the incarceration to others, the wealth you squander means lack and insufficiency for others, your celebration means their torment. Would you be interested in changing those things that causes the difference in experience? What if it meant your ways; including the celebration of everything that’s wrong with America? Starting with its heroes. Let’s take Jefferson as an example. He owned Africans, commissioned studies to perpetuate the lie that they were less than human yet had no qualms about fathering children with Sallie Hemmings. By today’s standards, a grown man that grooms a teenager to cater to their sexual depravity, would be labeled a pedophile. Oh wait, we should ask Cyntonia Brown if that rings true for her. After being forced into sexual slavery she mustered the courage to successfully and fatally defend herself against her oppressor and served 15 years in jail because of it. Or ask Chrystul Kizer that was faced with the same dilemma, rescued herself at the detriment of her oppressor and now faces criminal prosecution. Ms. Hemmings had no choice but Jefferson did, because he was free. See how he exercised his freedom? American hero.
They tell us we’re free today and all you have to do is open a newspaper, watch the news, browse social media to challenge that narrative. We fought for freedom; we were granted a modicum of it. We fought to be treated civilly, we were granted some courtesies. None of it is enough. None of it created equity. We’ve built and rebuilt something out of nothing over and over and over. Every time we do, our white neighbors and friends either stand by and watch or participate in the destruction of our accomplishments. Black Wall Street, Rosewood, Wilmington NC (google Daily Record fire) the list goes on and on. We’re that proverbial crooked rose that Tupac spoke about. We keep blooming under the most adverse conditions. We do just fine, given the opportunity. Therein lies the problem; “given the opportunity.” Which brings me back to “independence;” so no, by appropriate standards, we ain’t free. They had to and still do write laws to make sure we were treated with a measure of dignity. Just last year, 2019, Senator Jamaal Bailey and Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright co-authored a bill to ban racial discrimination based on hair; you know, the thing that grows out of our head naturally. A bill had to be passed to prevent it from happening because it’s still a thing. But we’re free though.
I have and will celebrate Juneteenth. The 4th is and will be just the 4th. When America doles out reparations for descendants of slaves the way they did land grants for white people; when the American government starts investing in communities of color the way they executed redlining and mortgage discrimination; when black bodies aren’t dropping in the streets at the hand of people that are hired and sworn to protect and serve; when all legal standards align with equity and fairness, I will celebrate the 4th.
Please keep in mind; the American flag was actually a symbol of the civil rights movement! It was the anthesis of the confederate flag! Paragons of the black civil rights movement waved it proudly because of what it was supposed to stand for. Racists were big mad. The more they saw the flag, the more they promoted the confederate flag; a symbol of a traitorous and murderous contingent of Americans with too much power. When you see a semblance of the flag on our merchandise, that is what it stands for; a real rebellion; integrity; truth; people. Our very existence is a rebellion. We’ve acted with integrity to build ourselves despite attacks from our white neighbors, with or without their help. Our people will survive. We will thrive. We will be free. America needs to decide if they want to grant us what we’re entitled to, before we decide to take it by any means necessary. ọṣọ aṣa
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