The United States just celebrated its 242nd birthday. July 4, 1776 was the date that this nation gained its freedom from the British, and after fierce fighting the Colonists tasted new “freedom.” Of course, the indigenous people didn’t feel so free, because they were herded off into “reservations” and were subjected to strict laws in a land over which they no longer had control. Be that as it may, in the words of Frances Scott Key, who penned the national anthem The Star Spangled Banner, this part of the earth became known as the “…land of the free and home of the brave.” More accurately, it was also the “home of the slave,” as this nation wouldn’t have ended up with the wealth it has, had it not been for the many years of free slave labor that lay at its foundation. So, from the very beginning, the apparent irony is that this land where freedom is frequently touted as an underpinning has always been mired in bondage of one sort or another.
There is something else in the United States of America: home grown terrorism, though it has been curiously ignored as a threat. The mainstream media seems to go out of its way to ensure that the usual “lone white males” who have been responsible for an incredible number of mass shootings are not regarded as “terrorists.” Basically, the racist bent of the American body politic has concluded that “terrorism” can only happen when it is carried out by people of darker hue or by Muslims. This was apparent when a recent television news announcer discussed the most recent public mass shooting that took place on Thursday, June 28. He prefaced his statements saying that he was not calling what happened an act of “terrorism.” Make no mistake, American terrorism is a direct threat to American “freedom.”
Now, let’s look at the most glaring irony surrounding this holiday. African Americans have endured an ongoing battle in search of freedom in the United States since the time they were snatched from their African homelands. As the group has resided in this country for over 400 years, a certain acculturation has occurred that has resulted in better material conditions. But with every advance, there are those who seek to pull the rug out from under this progress. African Americans have faced lynchings, Jim Crow, voter suppression, open housing bias, consumer discrimination, and more.
Today, we have a president who is determined to turn the clock back on this progress. His slogan of “Make America Great Again” has brought all types of ignorant denizens from out of the woodwork. They are emboldened in their bigotry, resulting in an increasing number of deaths at the hands of those who were hired to serve and protect us—the police. As a result, many African Americans feel anything BUT freedom. Moreover, there is a foreboding, based on several recent incidents, that lynchings are once again part of the American social fabric.
The situation at the Mexican American border has put nails in the coffin of any so-called freedom in America. This regime is separating immigrant (refugee!) children from their parents and actually placing them in cages. They are also operating internment camps, reminiscent of what happened during World War II when productive Japanese citizens were rounded up and placed in internment camps after having their belongings confiscated. The United States of America has never really been about freedom for Black, Brown, Red, or Yellow citizens. It is hypocritical for uninformed and unschooled individuals to continue to say “this is a free country,” a popular retort when anyone says anything about conditions that too many citizens face. They refuse to acknowledge that the “fireworks” of violent oppression are real.
With this said, there is light at the end of the tunnel; more and more Americans of all persuasions are beginning to see through the apparent U.S. hypocrisy and are demanding that we live up to the philosophical freedom that was once assumed to exist. And regarding African Americans and their observance of this holiday, it is fitting and proper to have guilt-free celebrations because the holiday grants freedom from the daily grind and an opportunity to be with family and friends. A Luta Continua.