Fighting for Your Right "Not" to Party:
Why I'm Not Celebrating July 4th
Min. Paul Scott
On July 5th 1852, the great orator and abolitionist,
Frederick Douglas delivered an electrifying speech
where he posed what was possibly the most significant
question of his time; "What to the slave is the Fourth
of July?" He received a thunderous round of applause.
A hundred and twenty some odd years later, July 4th
1976, as a nine year old junior militant, I stood
defiantly on a picnic table, raised my sand shovel and
posed a similar question.
The response I received?
"Shut up and eat your hot dog!"
celebrate the 4th of July is one of those eternal
questions that is often asked this time of year but
never receives a valid answer. Why do black folks
feel obligated to dress up in red white and blue top
hats and sing the Star Spangled Banner when our
ancestors were in the field picking cotton while the
colonists were getting their party on ?
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a day off work and a trip
to the beach as much as the next guy but it's time to
replace political correctness with historical
As a matter of full disclosure, I've never prided
myself as the all American boy type. I hate baseball
and even the thought of apple pie makes me nauseous.
So my view of American history may be cynical at best.
African Americans were not free in 1776, did not have
full citizenship in 1876, were still fighting for
equal rights in 1976 and with people still around like
Don Imus and Michael Richards, 2076 ain't looking too
Contrary to popular belief, America's victory in the
Revolutionary War did not bring my ancestors one iota
closer to Independence than if the Red Coats would
have won. Just if the British had won, instead of
having a Big Mac and a Pepsi for lunch, I would be
dining on crumpets with a spot of tea. And I would
probably be listening to Sir Paul McCartney in my ipod
instead of 50 Cent.
Although, many overly patriotic zealots claim to
cherish freedom of speech, speaking against this
country's day of national pride is considered
sacrilegious, worthy of a trip to the woodshed, or
Although the constitution grants freedom of
expression, in the 21st century, freedom of speech
comes with a heavy price.
There is always the distinct possibility that you
could wake up one morning in a cozy little cell in
Guantanamo Bay or at best find yourself sitting across
the desk from a stone faced IRS agent trying to
explain why your last year's vacation at Disney World
was tax deductible.
Should I have to live with the fear of "America love
it or leave it" being graffitied on my front door just
because I will have the only house in the neighborhood
not proudly flying Ole Glory ?
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