Independence Day is a celebration of America’s birthday. It’s a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the final wording of the Declaration of Independence on the 4th of July, 1776. America was independent at that time, but Black Americans were considered 3/5 of a person. Fireworks will light up the skies all around, hot dog eating contests will be had, picnics and even parades about town as people stand and cheer.
Our family went to watch the fireworks in Indiana. We had a good time, great food, entertainment and I wasn’t going to do a post but my 7 year old got in the car, slumped down and I asked him what he was doing? His response, “I don’t want to get shot!” What the …. ?!?! Where did that come from? Lately, he’s been seeing and hearing what is going on in the news and his words shocked my system to the core. We were surrounded by plenty of white people – men, women and kids and in his 7 year old mind, he heard the loud noises, saw them and equated them to murderers of black boys. Luckily he fell asleep so I was saved from that conversation.
This got me to thinking of Juneteenth! June 19, 1865 the war had ended and union soldiers landed in Texas and it was the abolition of slavery. Juneteenth is recognized as a state holiday in forty-five states. Slavery may have ended on paper, but not all of us are totally free. Today some of our families still feel the repercussions of the enslaved mentality.
Some of us still can’t walk down the street with a bag of skittles and Arizona, others can’t play at the park with a toy gun. Freedom is not being incarcerated for a drug that the Government is currently trying to legalize. What is freedom? Freedom to me is knowing that my kids can be kids, people can love and marry who they choose, women are paid equal wages and black men don’t scare police. My ancestors, and all of their melanin, have paid a price to this country that can never be repaid and America is still in debt. Despite our progress it seems we’re reverting back so America still has a long way to go. When the freedom of one person, because of their skin tone, causes “fear” in another, and that “fear” causes death, it makes me wonder will we ever be free?
No one in America has ever voted to give up their rights, that includes us Black Americans from past and present. Until we, as Americans, unite, protect and defend each other in adversity, America can and never will be great. America includes Black Americans, White Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, etc. empowering and uplifting one another financially, spiritually and supporting each other psychologically by simply not turning a blind eye.
Our history is rich and should be taught, learned, appreciated as well as celebrated. My 7 year old will continue to learn the importance of spreading love, not being fearful despite color, amidst our current state of affairs. We will continue to partake in the family celebrations, food, dancing, and fun, but we will also have that same spirit for Juneteenth going forward. It’s also important to me that I not only teach, but he comprehends his history as he applies it to the present day to ensure his greatness!