July 4th’s Cognitive Dissonance: For Black People, It May Be A Day Off, But Is It A Day of Independence?


Source: Annalisa Cimmino / Getty


“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal,” so the second paragraph of the American Declaration, drafted and signed by by the those considered the founding fathers, on July 4th, 1776.  

Wait. Scratch that. It was kind of made up. The Declaration Independence was voted on two days earlier, on July 2nd, 1776 and actually signed on August 2, 1776. And as the African proverb advises us: if you know the beginning, the end will not trouble you.

The idea of a free, democratic and just nation was born in a lie has forever lived in one. Not one thing is true. There is not a system of checks and balances was there was supposed to be. The SCOTUS, for all intents and purposes made presidents kings last week.

And even when parse the very beginning of the declaration, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal,” why did they not say human beings or people? And how to we see that damage historically and currently? In the now time, women are paid less for equal work, people who identify as LGBTQ are the subject of multiple legislative ruling designed to contain them, and of course women remain the only “we” in the whole “We the people” thing to live under a government who decides what were are able to do with our bodies.

Once you put Black in front of these categories, bad becomes worse.

But coming back to July 4th, a fake day of celebration by the settlers of the original 13 American colonies, it’s true that they sought  to escape not only the tyranny of the kind, but religious tyranny and persecution. It’s an ultimate paradox– and insult–is that those same white men who demanded and fought a bloody revolutionary war to establish their freedom were inflicting even worse terrorism on African men, women, and children. It would be easy to say that they were myopic, that this was 250 years ago, but it wouldn’t be true.

Harriet Tubman With Slaves She Helped During the Civil War

Harriet Tubman with a few of the people she helped free Source: Bettmann / Getty

First of all, there were vocal white abolitionists from the start of the American project (Benjamin Franklin for one). And more, in the choices made by Europeans against Africans was so correct, why take all the time to create false narratives about race?  Race wasn’t even a thing. People were the cultural, their land–British or French or Ashanti or Senegambian. But the desire for more Black labor grew, they had to come with some kind of why to . even there were white abolitionists who challenged America’s ‘Original Sin.’

Indeed, it is in this period that race as a concept was invented as a way to define human beings, who had always been known by their cultural lineage. The English. The Ashanti. The Senegambians.  But reducing them to this skin-based assessment allowed for the false sciences and social protocols that would define how human beings were to be treated.

It was acceptable, argued the slavers to work Africans to death or near death. What else were they born to do or capable of doing? They had to be beaten because they could not be reasoned with. And besides, they didn’t feel pain the way “normal” people did. Africans were property; objects; no different than the cattle used to till the land. 

Ta-Nehisi Coates makes it plain: Race is the child of racism, not the father. 

So, when Americans are expected to observe and celebrate the 4th of July as Independence Day, there are many Black Americans who cry, “Who’s Independence Day?” 

When one examines the Declaration of Independence, it’s easy to spot its irony as it pertains to Black Americans. Throughout the revered document, it refers to England’s King George as a “Tyrant” and lists his several improprieties when it comes to governing the then 13 colonies. 

[King George] has refused his Assent (approve of) to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.” From 1776 to 2024, the United States government has continually refused to create laws that are the most wholesome and necessary for the public good when it comes to the Black public. 

Reparations for ancestors of former enslaved Blacks would certainly help to heal the wounds of slavery as well as act as a stimulant to the economy. However, government officials refuse to do so because they don’t want to take accountability for something that happened hundreds of years ago. 

“[King George] has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.” Former President Donald Trump appointed three conservative Supreme Court Justices during his administration. Since that time, Roe vs. Wade was overturned, and Affirmative Action for colleges has been stricken down–and presidents have been given broad based immunity from prosecution for political acts.

“[King George] has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.” Much of the destruction of Black communities have come at the hands of the American government and lawmakers. The infamous 1921 massacre of Tulsa’s Greenwood district – known as Black Wall Street – was cultivated by racism and prejudice that systemically injected into the white citizens who plundered the thriving Black community. In 1985, Philadelphia police approved and executed the bombing of the headquarters of the MOVE organization, a Black liberation group. Eleven people were killed and over 200 hundred were displaced.

With all of this in context, who could possibly blame any disgruntled Black American for giving the 4th of July some side-eye?

Juneteenth National Independence Day

Source: CARME PARRAMON / Getty

Over the past few years, many Black inhabitants of America, native or otherwise have begun to denounce American Independence Day. Many have elected to acknowledge Juneteenth as a more appropriate and accurate occasion for Black Americans to celebrate their freedom in the country.

fter Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, not every enslaved person received freedom once the Civil War ended. It wasn’t until June 19, 1865, more than two months after Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered, and more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, that Black enslaved people in Galveston Bay, Texas, were informed that they were free and that slavery officially ended. 

Juneteenth has only been a national holiday for two years, but many Black Americans celebrated it for generations. Juneteenth: the day Black people in the US could begin to hope that they would know freedom.

Many people use their birthdays as a time for reflection; to see themselves for who they are, where they’ve been, and how to improve going forward. Today, the one in which America’s 248th birthday is celebrated, it seems to make sense for all Americans to wonder what day of freedom is true for them. Black people, stereotyped as lazy, have always been the hardest working, least paid people in the nation. So take July 4th off and party all night long. Celebrate that we are alive and here and it could have been otherwise. But when Juneteenth comes around next year, let’s use that day to come together in love and solemnity, to come together in true reflection: Are we free yet?



Frederick Douglass And The Lingering Relevance Of His ‘What To The Slave Is the Fourth of July?’ Speech

Juneteenth: The Civil War Was A Black Revolution


Source: Annalisa Cimmino / Getty

President Biden Hosts Juneteenth Concert At The White House

The post July 4th’s Cognitive Dissonance: For Black People, It May Be A Day Off, But Is It A Day of Independence? appeared first on NewsOne.

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