“Happy Independence Day”

I did not grow up in America with a sense of belonging and freedom. My grandparents were not far from slavery, and my parents and I experienced Jim Crow, segregated America. Life was often challenging as we were people who had a sense of pride and self-worth. So forgive me if I do not celebrate America as a fully enfranchised citizen.

The Rochester Anti-slavery Society asked Frederick Douglass to give a speech on July 5, 1852, to celebrate America’s independence. In the address, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July,” Douglass said, “This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.” Then he asked the audience, “Do you mean, citizens, to mock me by asking me to speak today?”

To me, it is mockery today to be greeted with “Happy Fourth of July!” I am the descendant of enslaved people who lived during Douglass’ time. They felt no sense of freedom while laboring under the bondage of slavery. They could only imagine their freedom and pray for it. So how could Douglass enjoy freedom when his brothers and sisters had none? Likewise, I cannot feel entirely free when my voting rights are under assault and many people are disenfranchised.

Frederick Douglass said, “Whether we turn to the declarations of the past or the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to its past, false to its present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future.” I am experiencing that future – Voting Rights.

 I never felt American until that cold day in January 2009 when I stood shoulder-to-shoulder in that dense crowd and listened to Barack Obama’s inauguration speech. This January 6, 2021, I gained a deeper appreciation for democracy and the life I have created despite many obstacles. But, as I watched the insurrectionists acting under the guise of patriotism storming the Capitol to destroy democracy and install an autocrat, I felt that all I had come to know was threatened. I became fearful of losing what freedom I had. I thought it was an abomination for the insurrectionists to overtake the seat of American democracy as they did. They desecrated statues and offices, frightened politicians, injured police, caused deaths, and threatened to kill the Vice President.

It was a spectacle to watch, and I feared it would spread throughout the nation as militant groups had already threatened state governments. That rage on the faces of the insurrectionists reminded me of the fear, resentment, and anger I saw during the Civil Rights movement. The crowds that confronted peaceful marchers expressed rage and racial venom that I still find hard to watch.

With what is happening in the country today, racially and politically, I again see fear and uncertainty for what is to come. Fear has motivated politicians to withhold rights from citizens. All people deserve human rights, whether black, people of color, LGBTQ, or immigrants.

America is a work in progress. We must continue to strive toward a “more perfect union.” I feel some sense of hope with the Biden administration since he is trying to unite the country. But still, too many people are at odds with the government and the darkening of its citizenry. And many of them are political leaders.

I will celebrate the gains made in combating COVID-19 with vaccinations, students returning to school, an improving economy, and the fact that once again, democracy prevailed.

American Democracy is not Guaranteed

posted in: Opinion | 0

Representative Liz Cheney spoke last night to a mostly empty chamber. It was one of the best speeches by a politician that I have ever heard. It was the best I heard by a Republican. It was concise, clear, and substantive. She is not who I would think of as a great speaker, yet she held me fixed in my overstuffed chair, afraid to take a breath for fear of missing a word. After she finished, I said, “She did it. She called it the way it was and is.” I don’t know how many times I said, thank you. I thanked her and I thanked God that a Republican had the courage and desire to speak in favor of upholding democracy. This republic (representative democracy) is still developing and struggling as it has since its founding. The Constitution is not a perfect document and must be constantly amended, but let’s not get rid of it and start with something else just yet.

I was concerned when Trump became president that Republicans would sacrifice democracy in favor of a repressive form of government, i.e., authoritarianism (autocracy or plutocracy). I noticed how Trump, though ignorant of American history and the structure and functioning of the United States government, could be successful in corrupting the Republican party, except for a small minority who put party above one extremely flawed human.

Rep. Cheney said, “God has blessed America, but our freedom only survives if we protect it. If we honor our oath, taken before God in this chamber, to support and defend the Constitution, if we recognize threats to freedom when they arise.” In response to the question, in 1787 at the Constitutional Convention, “Doctor, what have we got a republic or a monarchy?”  Ben Franklin, said, “A republic if you can keep it.” The founders knew that at some point as America grew and developed into a great nation that there would be equally great challenges to governing as they had established it.

Cheney called former President Trump a threat who provoked a violent (deadly) attack on the Capitol to steal the election (from Joe Biden). She spoke of Trump’s efforts continuing and believes, as I do, that he is knowingly risking further violence. I believe Trump and many of the members of Congress are trying to foment revolution. Their aim is to overthrow and restructure the government to shape this nation in their image. They are not in support of all citizens having the right to vote.

I don’t know what one woman and a small group of Republicans can do to save democracy, but Liz Cheney did the right thing in calling out the election lie and its originator – Donald Trump. “Those who refuse to accept the rulings of our courts are at war with the Constitution.” The Republicans refused to believe even Trump-appointed judges’ rulings and officials throughout the country when they said there was no widespread fraud that would change the outcome of the election. What happened to rule of law? I have heard that most elected Republicans know that Biden won fairly, and the election was not stolen. They are going along with the lie to achieve a political end. I think they are playing a scary and dangerous game.

A Gold Star father said in a message to Cheney, ‘Standing up for the truth honors all who gave all.’ 

Cheney concluded her speech by saying, “That we love her (America) so much we will stand above politics to defend her. That we will do everything in our power to protect our constitution and our freedom – paid for by the blood of so many.”

Many elected officials have forgone their sworn duty in favor of supporting a twice-impeached president who has always been a liar and a loser.

Prince Hall

On Tuesday, January 26, 2021, Whoopie Goldberg wore a sweater with the name “Prince Hall” embroidered on it. She announced on the Wednesday show that many viewers were offended by it. Whoopi said, “I don’t know why (they were offended) but I won’t wear it again.” “I simply bought a sweater from the internet, and I will never wear it again, and that is all I can say. I still don’t know what the connotations are or why people are upset, but I am not going to wear it again, OK? That’s that.”

Were some viewers offended by the name Prince Hall? Were you offended? Sometimes we need to question what we think or think we know. Sometimes we need to do some research – a quick Google search. Perhaps people were offended because Whoopi is not a Mason and only members of Prince Hall Free Masonry are allowed to wear such emblems. I don’t know, but one Mason, Rob D. Singleton II tweeted @Whoopi Goldberg, thank you for Honoring the Prince Hall Affiliation Masons today on the View. As a PHA Mason, I appreciate the exposure you have given the organization on your Platform. There are a few stories. I for one could care less. You were not disrespectful.

According to Wikipedia, Prince Hall was an abolitionist and leader in Boston’s free black community. I would describe him as a Community Activist. He promoted educating black children and supported a Back to Africa movement. Hall was born in Barbados in 1735 or 1738 and died in Boston in 1807.

Prince Hall was the founder of the African Lodge of the Honorable Society of Free and Accepted Masons of Boston, the world’s first lodge of black Freemasonry and the first society in American history devoted to social, political, and economic improvement. Freemasonry was founded upon the ideals of liberty, equality, and peace.

After Hall and 14 other black men petitioned for admittance to all-white Boston St John’s Lodge and were denied entry, they turned to Lodge No. 441 of the Grand Lodge of Ireland in 1775 and were initiated into masonry. That Lodge was part of the British forces stationed in Boston during the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783)

The black Masons had limited power; they could meet as a lodge, take part in the Masonic procession on St. John’s Day, and bury their dead with Masonic rites but could not confer Masonic degrees or perform any other essential functions of a fully operating Lodge. The Mother Grand Lodge of England, H. R. H. The Duke of Cumberland issued a charter for the African Lodge No. 1.

Author and historian James Sidbury said Prince Hall and those who joined him to found Boston’s African Masonic Lodge built a fundamentally new “African” movement on a preexisting institutional foundation. Within that movement, they asserted emotional, mythical, and genealogical links to the continent of Africa and its peoples.

No matter that Prince Hall was a free man in America during that time or any time, there were obstacles and restrictions put upon him that intended to prevent his progress and that of his people. Those restrictions and obstacles may have slowed progress, but they did not deter Hall and many other black men and women from moving forward in their quest to improve the conditions of black Americans. For that, we can be thankful.

And how about the name Prince? I think many black people gave their children royal and military titles as first names to insure that they were respected. I have known people named Lieutenant, Sargent, Prince, Queen, King, Princess, Duke, and more.

In his last published speech, his charge to the African Lodge in June 1797, Hall spoke of mob violence against blacks: “Patience, I say; for were we not possessed of a great measure of it, we could not bear up under the daily insults we meet with, in the streets of Boston, much more on public days of recreation. How, at such times, are we shamefully abused, and that to such a degree, that we may truly be said to carry our lives in our hands, and the arrows of death are flying about our heads….tis not for want of courage in you, for they know that they dare not face you man for man, but in a mob, which we despise…”

Black History is American History. The Struggle continues…

Are we okay?

Did we dodge a bullet or what? At least for a while. I thought I was doomed to live out my days under a different kind of government, one where I had no rights as a black woman, yet a citizen since birth. January 6, 2021, is perhaps a day that will live in infamy just as December 7, 1941, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. This time American citizens, those who claim to be patriots, flag-waving, men and women who believed the lie that the election was stolen “bombed” the seat of government. They refused to believe that their candidate lost because their candidate along with other Republicans in Congress decided to change the narrative, rewrite the whole election process and the outcome. They kept making an issue of the 70+ million votes their candidate received without regard for the 80+ million votes the Democratic candidate received.  Yes, I almost forgot, their 70+ million voters were predominately white people, while Mr. Biden’s 80+million voters were more representative of a multicultural, multiracial America. Therefore, they did not count according to Trump, Pompeo, and other Republicans.

Democracy is fragile. I was scared. This past election had me on pins and needles. I started fearing that America was headed towards autocracy – dictatorship, monarchy, or totalitarianism in the style of Hitler or Stalin in the early months of Trump’s reign. I did not understand why the Republican party would allow such an ignorant, self-serving man as Trump to take over their party and try to set himself up as sole ruler. They were complicit at his every turn just to get a few of their agenda items accomplished and perhaps for some deeper reasons involving race which they felt afraid or impotent to tackle. They wanted a strong man to do their bidding.

America suffered under that unholy Trump regime. It lost itself, it lost standing in the world. It was no longer the self-assured, competent, capable leader of the free world. It was just another country. The world was at first puzzled, then amused. America was a laughingstock. America reminds me of an abused spouse. The abuser must first degrade the spouse by playing up all their faults and weaknesses to make them feel disrespected, insecure, inadequate, fearful. The abuser starts with isolating the abused from all family and associates. Only the abuser is the one to look to for any and everything. Only the abuser “can fix it”.

Not only did I feel that I was no longer a citizen, but I felt that America was no longer that “beacon on a hill” that President Reagan spoke of. I and all the people I know were not comfortable in Trump’s America. January 20 brought in a new era, a “kinder and gentler nation” to quote President George H. w. Bush. Can president Biden do that? Of course, he cannot do it alone. So far, the radical element of the Republican party is not ready to cooperate. We can only hope and pray that there will not be another insurrection against the United States of America.

Win-Win

Have we saved Democracy yet? Donald J. Trump lost the presidency to Joseph R. Biden Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Last Saturday when the Electoral College votes were tallied and awarded to Biden, I felt free again as I watched people all over the United States of America dancing and celebrating in the streets of major cities. It was a beautiful sight. (Most celebrants were wearing masks.) The world also recognized the new President-elect and celebrated with us.

I have been greatly concerned about the demise of Democracy and the Rule of Law since January 20, 2017, when Mr. trump said, “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” He swore that oath that he neither believed nor understood. He never had any interest in governing the American people including the ones who voted for him. It was always about him aggrandizing himself. Everything was, is, and will always be about him. His behavior in office has not surprised me; however, I was surprised by the Republicans enabling his brand of crazy for four years.  All of that bowing and scraping for Federal judges, Supreme Court justices, and tax cuts, etc.

I still think that we can save Democracy and allow the Rule of Law to go forth at least for four more years. I believe in negotiations that allow for a win-win. Both sides can win this one. Democrats have won the presidency; therefore, they are in a power position. The winners should put forth sincere effort to make things good between the two parties. After all, they need to work together. Democrats should find out, not what the Republicans want, but what President Trump wants. I dare say that they are two different things. The Republicans want to stay in power; Trump wants freedom and continued adulation from the crowds. Perhaps after the Senate is finally decided, his party will say farewell. But for now, they must pacify and placate this infantile president and be a soothing salve for his tender ego.

Donald Trump has not suddenly developed an interest in this country. He has the same disdain for the country that his father had. He shows it daily. Trump could be allowed to leave without admitting defeat. That is how his father programmed him. He is never to lose. He must always see himself as a winner. (Mary Trump, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Raised the World’s Most Dangerous Man.)

I suggest that Democrats start thinking about the country in a real way. They should have had a backup plan for how to get Trump out of the White House in the works before the election. Did they really think the 45th president would “go gentle” into his retirement? His retirement is not as other former presidents. He has no books to write, no houses to build, no humanitarian efforts that await him. His is a gloomy future of fraud investigations — business, criminal, insurance, and bank. Then there are defamation lawsuits from women who have accused him of sex crimes, some he admitted to committing. His money is limited, and much will go to pay lawsuits if the justice system works as it should. Trump sees the deep morass of lies, schemes, and deception that he has created and is bogged down in. Presently, he does not and cannot see a way out. In his mind, he must remain president and stay in the White House.  

I pray that Congress will rethink that rule, suggestion, or idea that allows a criminal president to escape prosecution and stay in office. America should never again have an unfit person as president. We should not have a person without a knowledge of history and government, and especially a corrupt one.

Democrats should give Trump a way out of the presidency and the White House without police, military, paramilitary, white supremacist, bickers, and tough guys intervening. Let us have a smooth, if not the usual, transition of power. Offer him a deal for the sake of preserving order throughout the country. If he is given some incentive to leave, perhaps he will resign now and move on. If he leaves and has more of those hate-filled, divisive, violence-inciting scream-fest rallies, then he should be charged with treason and sedition and put on trial. It is then that America and the world will know without a doubt that Trump is an enemy of the state.

As I was writing the above, I saw where Trump had elevated racists, xenophobes, and suck-ups in the Pentagon. Can we count on the Generals to do the right thing no matter their politics? The president appears to be gearing up for a battle. I pray for intervention before it is too late.

President-elect Joe Biden is determined to move into the White House on January 20, 2021.

Spreading from the top

Should Americans expect the current leaders to set examples in decorum, health habits, or any other area of life? I’m thinking of the President, his administration, Congress, and even the Supreme Court. I hope you answered,”‘No.” If we look to the current leadership for advice, warnings, or anything positive, we are doomed as individuals and a nation. However, our leaders should set the proper examples for the benefit of the American people. Many people listen to the President’s words and look at his behaviors concerning the virus for guidance in their lives. But he has failed to practice safety measures and encourage his followers to do likewise. Some have died as a result.

I question the moral and ethical judgment of Amy Coney Barrett, who the President recently nominated to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court. She is the reason for that COVID-19 super-spreader event in the Rose Garden. I am not saying that Coney Barrett was still contagious from her bout with COVID-19 over the summer and that she infected people, including the President. I am saying that she lacked the judgment to get him to postpone her nomination, given all that was happening politically, racially, economically, and mainly where COVID-19 was concerned — over 200,000 dead and counting.

The judge is pro-life, but what does that mean? Does she only care about the embryo and not those suffering and dying from the virus? Coney Barrett did not consider that someone in that mostly unmasked crowd at the White House could be infectious and spread the disease. I’m merely stating that Judge Coney Barret has not exercised good, sound judgment so far on the national scene. She had her husband and children at that super-spreader event without wearing masks.

Along with the President, the judge has access to the best medical care; however, that is not true for all citizens. Mr. Trump praised his great doctors and medicines as he walked around, proclaiming that he is cured. He took full advantage of his “free” health care paid for by American citizens, yet he wants to take away health care from those same citizens. I couldn’t help but think of families who have suffered the loss of a loved one and those individuals who are still struggling with the disease and its after-effects.

Conservatives already have a majority on the Supreme Court, so why the rush to confirm Coney Barrett? Do they think that Trump will lose the election, and this may be their last chance for a while? If Biden wins, should he pack the Supreme Court with liberal judges?

What do you think?

Trump’s America

President Trump withheld lifesaving information from the country, saying, “I did not want to create a panic.” He knew that COVID-19 “was more deadly” than “strenuous flus” (the worst cases of flu).  He called it “the plague,” and said it is “airborne.” Yet he failed to warn American citizens. After acknowledging the pandemic’s danger to one individual, to his supporters, he calls it a hoax and refuses to wear a mask. Yet, he makes sure he keeps his distance from them. What is his motive in all of his actions towards this disease?

Was he pleased that at first, only old people were dying, then later, African Americans? Why did he withhold supplies and equipment from states?  Was it because they were “blue” instead of “red”?

200,000 people have died due to COVID-19. The disease is killing people of all races, religions, professionals and nonprofessionals, blue-state, and red-state residents of all ages. It does not discriminate based on other than wearing a mask, handwashing, and keeping distance.

We are experiencing Trump’s America — the good, the bad, the ugly, and the violent. He continues to cause disorder, mayhem, and death through lying, instigating, and race-baiting. He has ruined America’s free elections for generations.

Since he descended the escalator in his previous New York home and landed onto his political soapbox, he has been setting the stage for all-out civil war by pitting white supremacist supporters against African Americans, Immigrants, and other people of color. Trump’s America is unsafe for all law-abiding citizens. Now, he is sicking his attorney general on demonstrators threatening to charge them with sedition while he commits treason.

Trump lacks respect for the Rule of Law, and without Law, there is no America. Currently, the government is not working for its citizens. Congress has failed: The House is impotent to exercise its constitutional power. The Senate is empowering Trump to work his racist, divisive agenda, including the complete obliteration of democracy. And now the Supreme Court is mostly conservative. Our only hope is that they will render judgments based on a fair interpretation of the Law. We are doomed if they become sycophants, acolytes, or bootlickers of D.J. T.

The thing about representative democracy is that the three branches of government (Executive, Legislative, and Judicial) have to respect each other and faithfully perform their sworn duties for it to work. If the government is not functioning correctly, then there is no democracy. The American experiment dies when citizens do not protect democracy’s structural foundation.

This is Trump’s America!

Are We Okay?

We just dodged a bullet, for now, I think. I had thought I was doomed to live out my days under a different kind of government, one where I had no rights as a black woman, yet a citizen since birth. This past January 6, 2021, is perhaps a day that will live in infamy just as December 7, 1941, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. This time, flag-waving American citizens who claim to be patriots, stormed the beautiful Capitol building in a Trump-instigated violent insurrection. Men and women who believed the lie that the election was stolen bombed the seat of government leaving five people dead. The insurrectionist refused to believe that their candidate lost the presidential election on November 3, 2020, because he, along with other Republicans in Congress, decided to change the narrative, rewrite the whole election process and the outcome. They kept making an issue of the 70+ million votes their candidate received without regard for the 80+ million votes the Democratic candidate received. Oops, I almost forgot, their 70+ million voters were predominately white people, while Mr. Biden’s 80+million voters were more representative of a multicultural, multiracial America. Therefore, those votes did not count according to Trump, Pompeo, and other Republicans.

Democracy is fragile. I was scared. This past election had me on pins and needles. I feared that America was headed towards autocracy – dictatorship, monarchy, or totalitarianism in the style of Hitler or Stalin in the early months of Trump’s reign. I was perplexed as to why the Republican party would allow such an ignorant (he had no knowledge of history and government), unintelligent, arrogant, self-serving bully to take over their party and set himself up as ruler. They were complicit at his every turn just so they could get their agenda items accomplished and perhaps for some deeper reasons involving race (a subject for another time) which, they may have felt too afraid to tackle. They wanted a strong man, as Trump presented himself to be, to do their bidding.

America suffered under Trump. It lost itself. It lost standing in the world. It was no longer the self-assured, competent, capable, and powerful leader of the world. It was just another country. The rest of the world was at first stunned, puzzled, perplexed, and then amused. The United States of America became a laughingstock.

This beautiful country reminded me of an abused spouse. The abuser verbally abuses to intimidate and instill fear. The abuser highlights faults and weaknesses to make the abused feel disrespected, insecure, inadequate, and even subservient. Mr. Trump did that in his 2016 Inauguration speech and all subsequent speeches. The abuser isolates the abused from all family, friends, neighbors, and associates – “America Frist”. Trump’s America First slogan turned out to be America alone. The abuser is the one the abused looks to for everything. Only the abuser “can fix it”. In time, the abused falls in line and acts as if all is normal. Then comes a time when the abused is fed-up and refuses to take anymore. The abused rose en masse and voted Trump out. The abuser must go. And go he did – January 20, when the newly elected President Joseph R. Biden took the Oath of Office and Vice President Kamala Harris did likewise.

When Trump was president, not only did I feel that I was no longer a United States citizen; I felt that America was no longer that “beacon on a hill” that President Reagan spoke of. I and all the people I know were uncomfortable in Trump’s America. January 20, 2021, ushered in a new era of a “kinder and gentler nation” to quote President George H. W. Bush. Can president Biden inspire us to create that kind of nation? That remains to be seen, but I believe he can, which is evident from his eager and enthusiastic start in trying to level the playing field to allow all Americans to define their destiny. Of course, he cannot do it alone. So far, the radical element of the Republican party is not ready to cooperate.

We can only hope and pray that there will not be another insurrection against the United States of America.

Be inspired for good.

Mr. Trump, please Submit your Resignation

The 45th president of the United States of America is a breathing, walking, talking disaster not only for this country but to world order. As Rick Wilson put it, “Everything Trump Touches Dies.”

There are many reasons why Americans need to remove Trump from the Presidency. We want to do it with our votes; however, Trump and the Republicans are working diligently to keep many of us from exercising that right. He is a criminal by any standard. There are many people, contractors, bankers, and investors that he has defrauded over the years. He used campaign funds as hush money to pay off his “girlfriends.” He has used his office to enrich himself and his family. He has wasted millions of tax dollars on numerous golf outings, and hotel stays. Trump has ignored the “Rule of Law,” acting as though it does not apply to him. He has also exemplified treasonous behaviors on several occasions. What is his indebtedness to Saudi Arabia and Russia’s President, Putin?

The following suggestion is to keep the 45th president from changing the Constitution, so he can “remain in office and become president for life.” Or at least for four more years, even if he loses in November. He wants to remain in office to prevent being indited, found guilty as he knows he is, and imprisoned.

Mr. Trump, will you resign, please? Since you have served a term as President of the United States, we will give you the dignity of exiting gracefully. You know that you are an illegitimate president. After all these years, you still do not know how to be president. I don’t remember you trying to learn the role. It bothers me that you didn’t try to learn American or World history. It also bothers me that you never wanted to be the president of all citizens. You did not seem capable of learning; neither did you have the desire to do so. The Deal, Mr. Trump, is that we will drop all of the charges that could put you in prison for the rest of your life. All you have to do is resign and pay all of your past debts. It would help if you also reimbursed the taxpayers for your numerous golf outings and Mar-a-logo visits.

We can offer you a deal that you should not refuse — FREEDOM. Perhaps we can include your family. The offer, however, is contingent on you, Mr. Trump, staying off the radio, television, and social media platforms. You must not continue to divide Americans and dismantle democracy.

Do you think Mr. Trump would accept such an offer? I know many people want to see him in handcuffs going to jail. But the country should be spared that sight. Yes, he has done worse to American citizens, Immigrants, and others. Many have lost their lives because he did not take the virus seriously at the beginning of the pandemic. Soldiers died because of his lack of concern, his ineffectiveness, and his fear (Russia’s bounties). Ukrainians got killed because of his interests (dirt on Joe Biden). He has corrupted the Justice System with Bill Barr’s enablement.

I think he wants out. Come on, “We the People,” give him a way out!

*Fill out your Ballot at home, then take it to the DropBox at your Polling Station. *Fill out the Census and return it.

What to the African American is the 4th of July?

The Continental Congress voted in favor of independence from Great Britain on July 2, 1776. The first Independence Day celebration complete with fireworks was July 4, 1777. Since that time, the 4th of July has been a significant day for white Americans.

At its creation, the 4th of July had no significance for black people. The Ladies Anti-Slavery Society invited Frederick Douglass to speak at their Independence Day celebration in Rochester, New York, in 1852. Douglass was born into slavery in 1817; he escaped from it in 1838.  He hardly had warm, kind, appreciative thoughts about America on its Independence Day. In his speech, “What To The American Slave is Your 4th of July?” Douglass said, “the Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty and call upon him to join in your joyous anthems were inhuman and mockery and sacrilegious irony.” Douglass went on to speak on the subject, “American Slavery.”

Like Douglass, I have never felt that the 4th of July celebration was for black people. It commemorated white America’s freedom, not ours.  It had no significance for me growing up in the South. My family and those I knew were busy making a living while dodging the arrows of white supremacy.   

No group is more patriotic than African Americans: Tuskegee Airmen and others of that generation; Dr. Martin Luther King, and the Civil Rights workers; my uncles who served in World War II and the Korea War; my husband who served in the Air Force; my three brothers who served in the Army during the Vietnam war; my four brothers-in-law who served in the Army, Navy, and Air Force. I appreciate African Americans who serve today in government, the military, on the frontline, and the essential workers. I praise the activist and protesters who are marching, teaching, writing, speaking, getting beaten by police, and dodging Covid-19 to push this Nation forward toward a “more perfect union.”

I have spent a few 4ths of July holidays in my latter years watching fireworks, attending outings and family gatherings, hearing speeches and patriotic concerts; Yet, I struggle with the idea of what it means to be American. America is 155 years from slavery’s end (55 years since the Voting Rights Act passed.) If a generation is 30 years, then I was born 2.5 generations from slavery; therefore, maybe I am too fashioned by that history to feel truly American. I live American — obeying laws, paying taxes, and enjoying some freedoms while being a good citizen. Yet, I do not feel American.

I am presently concerned with whether my vote will count and whether the police and vigilantes will continue to murder black people for sport. I worry that black and brown hopeful immigrants are halted at the border and refused entry (America welcome immigrants again.) I am concerned about the unemployed (create jobs), the low- income families (raise the minimum wage) with hungry children (SNAP), the homeless (affordable housing), the mentally and physically ill ( healthcare for all). I worry about black children who are poorly educated by teachers who do not know, understand, or care about them. I am concerned about how children without computers and internet access will be successful in life. I am worried about the environment.

I have been hopeful at times, but harmful, racist, rhetoric, and divisive politics have hindered America’s progress in governing and race relation since January 2017. 

Frederick Douglass said, “Whether we turn to the declarations of the past or the professions of the present, the conduct of the Nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future.”

Especially now, as America is uncovering and releasing long-held animosity; and resurrecting and creating racist tropes to use as weapons against black people.

What to the African American is the 4th of July? That is for each to decide. But I will not do anything special to commemorate this day. I pray that I will feel better about America on the next 4th of July.