Independence Day in America, also known as the 4th of July, will be celebrated on Saturday, July 4, 2020. This date commemorates the date that the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776. On that date the Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies were no longer subjects of the monarch of Britain, King George III, and were now united, free, and independent states. The colonists were set free! But the slaves were not!
During this pivotal year of 2020 in America, the climate of Independence Day has shifted significantly, as an awakening of sorts is taking place. People are becoming aware of a number of issues that were sort of swept under the proverbial rug before now. For example, the 4th of July has traditionally been celebrated with fireworks, picnics, and barbecue. Families tend to get together in the outdoors and have fun, but this year a pall is hanging over the holiday due to the increasing awareness of the excesses of police brutality kicked off by several unbelievable high-profile murders.
Among the realization that is crystallizing is the fact that the slaves were not freed on July 4, 1776. They were freed years later in 1863, but the last vestiges of slavery didn’t happen until June 19, 1865, on what has become known as Juneteenth. Actually, researchers have recently discovered that some Blacks were still enslaved during the 1960s. So fundamentally people have realized that it is ludicrous for African Americans, who have been subjected to post-slavery Jim Crow, police brutality and economic violence, to celebrate Independence Day on July 4. Technically, that holiday has no real meaning for Black people in America.
But it is not all doom and gloom. This year has been fraught with ongoing uprisings to such an extent that it is rearranging the social fabric of the United States. One of the more important developments was triggered by the very high-profile murder by a policeman of George Floyd, an unarmed African American, who didn’t resist arrest. Floyd’s murder was captured on video and was seen all over the world. Interestingly, other blatant acts of police murder occurred prior to the Floyd murder and even afterward. These include Breonna Taylor, who was murdered at home in her bed, and Ahmaud Arbery, an African American who was out jogging and was chased down and murdered by an ex-law enforcement officer, his son, and one other person.
These murders have finally reached the consciousness of many white people for the first time. It is as though they needed visual proof of the claims of abuse that Black people have been leveling all along. All of a sudden, the videos are bringing the stark realities of institutional racism and maltreatment to a head.
Another parallel set of issues is developing; white supremacists are now so emboldened that they are openly attacking Black people. Abuse by the police continues unabated, even though some have lost their jobs as a result of their behavior. One officer talked about civil war and said, in so many words, that he looked forward to killing n!**ers!
So, now as we approach Independence Day 2020, another civil war may be looming. It has been reported that gun sales, among Blacks and whites, have gone through the roof. Incidents of racial slurs and other cases of disrespect from whites on Blacks are increasing while the president of the U.S., Donald Trump, has shamelessly aligned himself with the racist right. Protesters have been successful in having confederate monuments removed, a tactic that has been opposed by President Trump!
As we approach this 4th of July holiday, there are fireworks on the horizon; these are fundamentally ideological, but they may also take on another more physical nature. And it is becoming clear that the skirmish that we face is not just one of Blacks against whites; it is essentially pitting people who honor justice and righteousness against selfish white supremacists who lack moral fiber. We can only hope the fireworks remain ideological and bear positive fruit. We know, nevertheless, that this year represents a turning point, hopefully a positive one, in the lives of America’s former slaves. A Luta Continua.