Fakin' the Funk for the 4th:
Should Black Folks Celebrate?
"We wear the mask that grins and lies."
Paul Laurence Dunbar
Back in '92, Hip Hop group, Main Source recorded "Fakin' the Funk." Although the intent of the song was to diss wack rappers who weren't "keepin' it real," it could also apply to the millions of black folks who will be celebrating "Independence Day" this July 4th.
Every year, black folks, drink more beer, eat more barbecue and fire off more fireworks than everybody else in honor of a holiday that isn't even about them. Many have not stopped once to ask themselves, why we celebrate holidays that have nothing even remotely to do with the African experience.
Historians trace the genesis of the problem back to slavery times when the enslaved Africans were not required to work on some holidays. So as one writer put it, even in 2009, for black folks, psychologically, we reenact Emancipation Day every weekend and holiday. However, we must never confuse a day off work with historical accuracy.
This may come as a shock for some but black folks weren't free in 1776. Matter of fact, it wasn't until four score and five years later that Abe Lincoln delivered the Emancipation Proclamation.
Also, it must be noted that black folks gained nothing from the America's victory over the British. Matter of fact, Lerone Bennet writes in his book "Before the Mayflower" that a Lord Dunmore, former governor of colonial Virginia, issued a proclamation on November 5, 1775 promising freedom to all male slaves willing to fight for England. This was 86 years before Lincoln "freed" the slaves in states that were rebelling against the Union.
Not to mention that Britain abolished slavery in 1833 and it was not until 30 years later that slavery was abolished in America.
While some may argue that Independence Day is not about slavery but the higher ideals of Freedom, Justice and the Pursuit of Happiness that is another lie that has been repeated so much that people accept it as religious dogma.
In Eric Williams' book "Capitalism and Slavery" he states very clearly that the Revolutionary War was based on economics; American sovereignty versus British imperialism. According to Williams, the main source of the conflict was the control of the West Indian sugar and molasses trade. Dr. Ishakamusa Barashango in his work "Afrikan People and European Holidays: A Mental Genocide Vol II" writes that the American colonists needed the molasses to make rum that was used to exchange for slaves on the West African coast.
So, why in 2009, will even the most educated African Americans so vehemently defend their compulsions to celebrate a false holiday?
Part of the problem is the belief that in order to "make it" in American society, we have to "go along to get along." Unfortunately, many of us do not have the courage exhibited by the children in the Emperor's New Clothes fable to tell his royal highness that not only was he butt naked but a slave owner as well, figuratively speaking.
So every year, they put on Dunbar's "mask that grins and lies" and sit down at 4th of July picnic tables, gobbling down as many hot dogs as they can stomach.
What WEB DuBois referred to as a "double consciousness" having to be both African and American, psychologists would call schizophrenic behavior.
White folks also have a psychological disorder when dealing with black people as James Baldwin expressed in his writings.
When we wanted to be down with their program they wouldn't let us but when we rejected their program they called us "divisive" and "reverse racists." So the implied threat behind bumper stickers that read "America: Love it or Leave it" is enough to beat most black folks into psychological submission.
So, beyond the historical contradictions, the celebration of the 4th of July is problematic on several different levels.
From an economic standpoint, it is amazing how, in the midst of this country's economic woes, black folks will still find the funds to throw a 4th of July bash for the homies. The same father who can't afford to buy his child a black history book that may benefit him for the rest of his life will, quickly, fork over 50 bucks for firecrackers that go up in smoke in seconds.
What is most disturbing is the hypocrisy that Independence Day revelers exhibit when addressing the younger generation.
I find it ironic that the same black folks who will berate the youth for their justification of using the dreaded "N" word by saying that they are "redefining the meaning to stand for something positive" have no problem redefining history so they can justify getting their party on July 4th.
Also, although the old heads will criticize rappers for coming up with outlandish hood tales just to sell cds they will rewrite history to give black folks Independence when they were still picking cotton.
Now, some will argue that the fact that we have a black president is reason to celebrate this year, in and of itself.
However, based on the way Obamas are constantly being dissed by the right wing conservatives you would think that they were just a foot off the plantation, themselves.
We must realize that true Freedom is independence of mind, body and spirit.
How many racist anti-Obama emails do black folks have to get in their email boxes before they admit that the road to their Freedom and Independence is still under construction ?
Paul Scott writes for No Warning Shots Fired.com. http://www.nowarningshotsfired.com/
He can be reached at (919) 451-8283 firstname.lastname@example.org