The Crusader Newspaper Group


People everywhere are gearing up for the Independence Day celebration, nicknamed the “Fourth of July,” because it was July 4, 1776 that the Declaration of Independence was signed into law. The fledgling colonies had won their independence from England. The fight was fierce, but the scion of Europe stayed the course and broke away to establish one of the most powerful countries in modern world history, now known as the United States of America (USA).

Considering the foregoing, it must be one of the most ironic situations ever to witness that a country that fought for its freedom so vehemently, and in whose credo it is wrapped, would use servitude as a springboard to greatness. The United States, through the years, used a combination of indentured servants, and slavery, to carve its niche as a free-standing entity in the world. Indentured servants, who could arguably be considered as glorified slaves for a period of time, were able to gain their freedom. African slaves, on the other hand, were not. They were chattel from the beginning, enduring one of the most brutal institutions conjured up by human beings.

In addition to this, the European interlopers came to these shores and found Native Americans residing here. That did not stop them, and ultimately through a combination of guile and violence, stole their homeland from right under their feet to claim it as their property. To add insult to injury, after an unsuccessful attempt at enslavement, Native Americans became relegated to narrow pieces of land called “Reservations.” Areas were “reserved” for them and laws were passed that limited their movement. In this regard, they, too, like others at the foundation of this country, were not free!

So, the United States of America, whose citizens often shout the meme “this is a free country,” has always used the lack of freedom as a hammer in order to ensure its own sovereignty. And today, this is still the prevailing condition. Americans are anything but “free,” with plutocrats controlling all resources and citizens reduced to wage slavery with access to only a sliver of the economic pie.

African Americans found themselves “free” twice; first when slavery officially ended via the Emancipation Proclamation that took effect January 1, 1863, and the remnant on “Juneteenth,” i.e., on June 19, 1865 when slaves in Texas finally got the word that they had been freed. Some African Americans today insist that Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, should mark the official ending of slavery for Blacks in America.

But it was not the end; some reports reveal that there were pockets of enslaved Black people in America as late as the 1960s. And if the truth be told, the institution of “sharecropping” was a form of “quasi-slavery.” Sharecroppers, from numerous accounts, were seldom able to become totally independent, often being mired in perpetual debt to owners of the land that they farmed.

Today, as we embark upon Independence Day 2017, which marks the 241st birthday of this country, African Americans have learned the hard way that “freedom ain’t free.” Black people in America are still, in many cases, the last hired and the first fired. There are still issues of affordable housing, and the glass ceiling for many is an ever-present reality. Many Black people are still economically enslaved due to a myriad of causes, not the least of which is a history of abject oppression. Couple this with the fact that urban Blacks in depressed communities are often held captive by burgeoning crime, Black-on-Black violence and mass incarceration.

The Fourth of July, therefore, currently has little meaning for African Americans outside of being a wonderful outdoor holiday with food, family and fireworks. It will remain so until the community unifies, embraces a common set of empowering values, and rises out of psychological enslavement. Black people will remain “un-independent,” i.e., not independent, as long as there is a dependence upon a white supremacist infrastructure to set it free. A luta continua.

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