Today is the Fourth of July, a federal holiday in the United States meant to represent the birth of American Independence as on the same day in 1776, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. At this time, I’ve been more and more reluctant to even celebrate today. On July 4th, 1776, Black Americans were still enslaved and Native Americans were being subjugated. Furthermore, women were still struggling to gain any sliver of authority and voice. Why should we be celebrating a day where all Americans weren’t free? Why should we be calling this day, Independence Day? Should we be celebrating Independence Day when the majority of people living within the United States are not free? There are people locked up in cages because of ICE. They are not free. The USA has the most incarcerated people in the entire world. This is America. Why should we be saying that we are free and independent if all we’ve done is replaced one oppressive structure for another?
Now, I shall share the words of Frederick Douglass from his speech: “What, to the American Slave, is your 4th of July?”
“What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants brass fronted impudence; your shout of liberty and equality, hallow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanks-givings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.”
Originally published July 4