Thursday, June 25, 2009

Facing the Fallacy of the Fourth

Facing the Fallacy of the Fourth:
Why Should Blacks Celebrate ?

Paul Scott

Call me an iconoclastic, hater but I don't celebrate Independence Day. When the kids next door set off firecrackers late into the night, I'm the dude who calls 911 to report a noise ordinance violation.
It's not that I have a problem with folks getting the day off from work, heading to the beach and stuffing themselves with hot dogs. But as a black, African American, person of color or however you want to describe a decedent of enslaved Africans, I think that the whole shebang is highly overrated.

Sure, white folks can sing songs about bombs bursting in air but at the time when said bombs were exploding, my ancestors were picking cotton in the hot Carolina sun.

As a matter of full disclosure, I've never prided myself as the all American boy type. I hate baseball and even the thought of apple pie makes me nauseous. So my view of American history may be cynical at best. Black folks were not free in 1776, did not have full citizenship in 1876, were still fighting for equal rights in 1976 and if the right wing conservatives have their way, 2076 ain't looking too promising.

My disdain for the Fourth of July is not based on a mere political ideology but historical accuracy. It was not until four score and five years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence that Abe Lincoln delivered his Emancipation Proclamation and a century later Dr. Martin Luther King was still dreaming of equal rights for African Americans.

The real truth that should be self evident is, although all men may have been created equal, the United States did not even begin to embrace this concept until the late 1960's.

Historically speaking, not until slavery became less economically viable did the "peculiar institution" end in America.

Black folks gained nothing from the Revolutionary War. Since England abolished slavery in 1833, it is reasonable to assume that if the British would have won the war slavery would have ended 30 years earlier.

Some will argue that the election of Barack Obama as this country's first black president is reason, in and of itself, for black folks to celebrate the 4th. After all, isn't this a sign that we are finally one nation?

Well, somebody needs to tell that to Right Wing talking heads .

With the way that Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and the rest of that bunch have treated both Barack and Michelle Obama since the election, it seems that the First Family are just one foot off the plantation, themselves.

But yet, you can bet on July 4th you will have a bunch of drunk black folks stumbling around in red, white and blue top hats slurring the words to "My Country Tis of Thee."

How many racist anti-Obama emails do black folks have to get in their email in boxes before they realize that even in 2009, the road to Freedom is still under construction ?

The saddest part of the whole ordeal is the message that we are sending young black children when we encourage them to celebrate Independence Day. Instead of teaching our children to think critically, we are forcing them to accept a blatantly false version of history without examining the facts. How can we teach them to value education when the foundation of the United State's educational system is based on a 200 year old lie that had a holiday formed around it. To teach young black children to celebrate Independence Day is intellectually, criminal.

So, go ahead white America, enjoy your day in the sun. But as an African American, I close with the immortal words that the great abolitionist Frederick Douglas delivered to a predominately white audience in 1852:

"This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn."

Paul Scott writes for No Warning Shots He can be reached at (919) 451-8283