Growing up, I always loved the fourth of July. Prior to changing my eating habits, I was in a functioning food relationship with hot dogs and keilbasa sausages. While my indulgements of these foods were not solely during barbeques, my tastebuds met July fourth with intense anticipation. Now that I am older, my oral fixation with phallic foods is comedic and suggestive, but more importantly me age permits me the knowledge of associating this holiday with much more than food. As July fourth exists to commemorate the freedom of the United States, this declaration declared an idea of freedom that excluded those of a darker hue. There it is essential to note that not all in America were free on July 4, 1776.
As a black woman, I know that my ancestors returned to their quarters as enslaved as they were before the signing of this document. Thus, the only firework that goes off on the fourth of July for me is in the form of a lightbulb, that tells me of that this “holiday” is not worth celebrating. In fact, any blind commemoration of this holiday demonstrates the black celebrator as anything but free, performing like an American robot celebrating a freedom that isn’t their own. I equate such behavior to laughing at a joke that delivered to offend you-the joke’s true intention flying over a head inflated with the fallacies of freedom.
Some may say that the celebration performs similar to the voice in Langston Hughes’ “ I too, Sing America.” While I agree that the historical and contemporary contributions of blacks make us more than entitled to the highest form of American status, I would be lying if I stated that I have ever truly felt like an American. American history is praised and taught in school, mine is not. American beauty is placed on a pedastal, my beauty is the back on which this premise is manifested. So while I acknowledge appropriating yourself in an exclusionary environment,seeking validation from the majority or even anticipating their shame is highly problematic and a tad bit overzealous. In the same breath, self exclusion may inadvertently depict inclusion as unnecessary. Thus, regardless of where you fall on the issue, the true independence of this holiday begins with an acknowledgement that this holiday does not reflect a totality of freedom. So whether you choose to abrasively assert your attendance as an uninvited guest, or sit this holiday out, know the steps taken by your ancestors in the days before an after the fourth of July. As Africans in America,we too can sing America, but in failure to acknowledge our own harmonies we fall deficient to drowning in a sea of sounds reminding us of the loss of our native tongue. So while I too can sing America, I cannot sing of a freedom not extended to my ancestors at this nation’s conception.