Today, a friend of more than 40 years texted me "Wishing you a safe and happy 4th of July!" followed by six American flag emojis and six celebratory horn-blowing emojis.
I texted back, "Same to you (although I don't know when you got so damn patriotic.)"
His response? "I just learned about emojis. Yay, me!"
His answer satisfied my curiosity. He used the 4th of July like many African-Americans (and quite a few non-African-Americans) use it . . . as an excuse to do something else they want to do -- get off work, barbecue in the backyard, have a family reunion (because it's a three-day holiday and it allows out-of-town relatives travel time), or simply to practice sending out emojis.
I do know a few African-Americans who actually celebrate Independence Day with flag waving and parade watching, but very few. When asked (because, you know, I have to ask) why they're celebrating they usually answer that America's a great country, and they're proud to be an American.
I'm never quite sure how to respond without launching into a lecture that I'm quite sure they don't want to hear.
But here it is.
If you're Black, and grateful and proud to be an American that's all cool and dandy, but why are you celebrating the independence of a country that kept you enslaved while declaring their own right to be free?
I mean, let's be clear . . . if there is any date that Black folks should be celebrating as Independence Day, it should be December 18th. That's the day, in 1865, that the Thirteenth Amendment was issued, outlawing slavery.
Oh . . . you thought Lincoln freed the slaves with his Emancipation Proclamation . .!
No. He only freed the slaves in the rebelling Southern states, just to further piss them off.
It was simply a war measure, not a measure of the Nation's compassion or conscience.
Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware, parts of Virginia and even parts of Louisiana were allowed to keep right on doing what they were doing - practicing slavery.
So, yeah, while I understand some African-Americans are proud to be an American, and/or want to serve it in some manner (I fall into the latter category, having served in the U. S. Navy for five years. Yay, me!), I just don't understand celebrating an Independence Day that not only is NOT mine, but also celebrating the document that is at the heart of the holiday -- The Declaration of Independence. A document that opens with the words "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
My men, my race, weren't considered equal. Our right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness wasn't recognized. The fact is there were 500,000 Blacks being held as slaves as the document was being signed
So no offense, but while I don't mind using the 4th of July as an excuse for a paid day off from work (much as many whites use the MLK holiday), I will reserve my celebration of Independence Day for another five months