“This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn…. Do you mean, citizens, to
mock me, by asking me to speak to-day.”
– Frederick Douglass, July 5, 1852
Independence Day & Black History
It’s 10:31PM and my predominately Black neighborhood is celebrating with fireworks. It leaves me with a peculiar feeling in my chest to hear and witness the howls and echoes of American pride. It’s quite easy to know (and believe) these people do not know our history, but still celebrate under the notion that this country has always identified its people as one. Understand that this entry isn’t to separate, but educate.
Please take a moment to reread the quote above.
Eleven years after Frederick Douglass’ speech African Americans could finally celebrate “independence”. Technically speaking our freedom can be celebrated on 1 of 2 days. Lincoln said we were free as of January 1, 1863, but many of our ancestors wouldn’t catch wind of this until June 19, 1863. I anticipate someone thinking, “Well, Veronica…that was years ago.” That’s beside the point. I’m not living in the past I’m just paying my respects to my family and their loved ones from 240 years ago. How could I celebrate this day when they were (and are) still imprisoned and suffering?
It feels like we’ve come a long way until we play the numbers came and turn on the news. Freedom is a word overused and over valued because the moment you look at our country and its TRUE history for what it is you see that we are STILL trapped. We can’t even fish without licenses, it’s petty things like that which can set me off.
My ancestors, whose names are now mysteries to my family after 2 centuries, deserve to be respected and honored. As do yours. So, when I was asked to “come out and celebrate our freedom” I declined. July 4th was not a day of freedom for my family, June 19th was. Sure, I hung out with my loved ones and traveled, but I do that every weekend. Today held no particular values outside of the blessing of waking up to see another day with the ones I cherish most. If I had to choose who I spent my days with it would be every face I saw today.
If my grandmother were here today she’d say something like, “Baby Girl, God bless the fact that you’re able to spend their Holiday relaxing with your favorite people. Put those feet up and just be proud of who you are. That’s all we have in this life. Our love and our pride.”
As I get older that sense of pride increases and of course it begins to influence my work. Please know that just because I focused on my culture doesn’t mean I don’t respect the next. I love everyone and I respect your history and your present, but sometimes I’m going to have to write specifically for my people. They are so beautiful and so lovely, yet so lost. I’m responsible for them as much as the person that is related to them by blood. If you’re a good person with a good heart I’ll never have a single thing against you.
I hold true to my statements in all my blogs that at the end of the day we are all souls and we should love one another always. If something infuriates you about a culture, don’t stereotype – speak on it. Ask politely. Consider their perspective. Respect them the way you want to be respected. We all have to be there for one another. Don’t be cold, don’t be fearful, just remember your heart and the fact that everyone you encounter is loved and deserves kindness. You never know why someone is being rash or judgmental unless you extend an ear or a hand. Not everyone’s life is beautiful, not everyone’s life is easy, not everyone’s story is fair, just keep your mind and hearts open when dealing with people outside your race.
Accept that all you know is what the TV told you and that does nothing, but fuel your sterotypes and cause those races to mimic it because they feel that’s all their worth. Stand united, live together, and love together.