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Bron Dayvid Male, 21, United States (7/4/2012 7:08:00 PM)

Independence Day


In writing this piece I would like to first state that I neither detest America nor do I repudiate my citizenship.

Independence Day, July 4,1776: a date that I have been taught, since elementary, to glorify, honor, and celebrate.
It was on this spectacular day that our forefathers, headed by, The Thomas Jefferson, conjured the greatest document in American history. The Declaration of Independence manifested America’s sovereignty and freedom as the once child, now raging teenager, broke from the parental guidance and discipline of mother Britain.

When mother Britain received the declaration, it responded with the “Answer to the Declaration of the American Congress”; in which it denounced the signers of the declaration for not applying the same principles of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” to the enslaved African Americans. The question that was most frequented was how congress slave-owners could proclaim “all men are created equal” without freeing their slaves.

Before continuing, I would like to add that I am in fact an African American. So if the following arguments come off as seemingly biased, it’s quite possible that they are.
It is understood by the general public as well as taught in our schools that the “Emancipation Proclamation”, an executive order issued by, The Honest and most Honorable, Abraham Lincoln in 1863, freed the slaves. Now as a fellow writer, I’ve come to personally know the power of words, but more importantly the power of their interpretation.

The Emaciation Proclamation did not free slaves. It proclaimed that the slaves in the ten states that were then in rebellion, which also had already seceded, were free. In other words, Lincoln had no jurisdiction on the states in which he “freed” slaves, thus the Emancipation Proclamation had no effect on nearly ¾ (3million) of slaves in the U.S. at the time.

What freed the slaves was the advancing effort by the Union Army, which enlisted, and got exceptionally aid from, slaves and former slaves. After the victory of the north, the reestablishment of the seceding states, and the most pivotal 13th amendment (1865,2 years after EP) slavery was outlawed.

My point?

How as an African American can I celebrate a document, whose racist signers intentionally excluding my then enslaved ancestors?
How can we as proud “blacks” celebrate a day of freedom in which we were not free?

To quote Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Mask, “I am not a prisoner of history. I must not look for the meaning of my destiny in that direction.” And I am not and I don’t, but there is a spiritual tension that arises within me when I see so many people (black people) ignorantly shout “freedom, happy independence day; ” albeit their ignorance is bliss.

Again to quote Fanon’s Black Skin, White Mask, “The density of history determines none of my acts. I am my own foundation.” It is not solely the reality or the facts of history that have lead me to my current take on Independence Day. It is simply a sense of responsibility and truth that is so overwhelmingly enlightening that I can’t, respectfully, ignore; in honor of those who preceded me.

I am a human being first, an African second, and an American last. Two thirds of my being rejects the holiday known as Independence Day. One third of my being relishes in the pride, the unity, and the love and joy displayed across the nation on Independence Day. And it is because of that unity and love that I won’t burden you: with demagogic slander of the nation, anti-social antics, rebellious protest, or even highlight the obvious racism that slumbers in every brick that built this nation.

“I, too, am America.” So I won’t burden you, but instead leave you with a simple request; Use this day not to celebrate a document but family. Not too many opportunities are presented, as would be liked, for us (U.S.) to spend precious time with loved ones, and for that I am grateful.

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  • Donnaj York (4/4/2013 7:45:00 PM) Post reply

    Ok, I’m not African American. In fact I’m so white I’m almost green, or bluish, with my white-white skin, thin in a way that the bluish’ness of my veins kind of shows through.

    Neither I nor any of my ancestors were slaves or enslavers. My ancestors came from the hollows in the mountains of WVA, (hollers) . Even if they wanted slaves they wouldn’t have had enough land to make it worthwhile. If you’ve ever been down a WVA ‘holler’, you know what I mean. They are long narrow valleys that dead end at the base of a mountain.

    Nor could WVA holler people have been able to financially afford slaves, even if they had wanted them. But ‘holler’ people “birthed” their workers. They had lots of children, (modern birth control was only in experimental stages at that time, and WVA winter nights are long and cold) , and everyone worked according to age and ability.

    My personal little family, one mom, one dad,10 children, never did live in a ‘holler’. We were “town people” sort of, living high upon a hill overlooking a valley town that was basically “small-town America”. If you have ever passed through the mountains and have seen houses dotting the tree covered hillsides, one of those may have been my home, and although you couldn't see it, there was a paved road all the way to the top of the " neighborhood" .

    When I was 11 we moved to VA, to another small town. Admittedly, these towns didn’t have many black residents. I don’t know why…….it just was. Some parts of the country have more or less of any given race or ethnic group. The small African American population more or less blended in with the rest of the town and we were all just people of the town.

    We had television, books, and newspapers, and I knew there were racial problems and racial tensions in other parts of the country and throughout the world. Mankind is a sin-natured, selfish creature who wrongs other humans inherently, sometimes intentionally, other times out of utter ignorance, or even from thoughtless compliance to the status quo of the time and place.

    In Africa, tribe enslaved tribe. Does anyone really think that those panty-waisted white men ventured into the unfamiliar wilds of Africa and captured tribes of Africans as slaves? They wouldn’t have been able to find their way out the thick foliage alone, let alone bring captured slaves out with them. White man got into the business of buying and selling humans when they began buying Africans enslaved by other Africans. Most so-called “civilized” or developed countries did trade in slaves, and slavery has been a scourge upon mankind since before the times of the Old Testament.

    But the point of my story here is that in my mid-teens, I had - had no experience with racial tensions, then my dad passed away when I was 15 and living in our small VA town. My older brother and my mom decided there was no future in the small VA coal-mining town, and so chose a NC city to relocate the family to.

    This relocation just happened to be the year after those NC school systems had been desegregated. Large belt buckles were outlawed in schools because of so much fighting, there had been rapes in school restrooms.

    Unhappiness and misery was mutual and wide-spread. I don’t know in what specific ways the white students harassed the blacks because I had no friends. I was an outsider, an outcast……I did not fit in.

    At the middle school attended by my younger brother and my niece, black female students carried scissors to school, and in hallways and on buses, they would come up behind white girls in with long hair and lop it off.

    Finally coming to my main point, I was terrified and completely out of my element. At the VA small town school I had just left, we had voted an African American girl homecoming queen. We did so because she deserved it. She was beautiful and kind and smart and friendly. Then suddenly I found myself in a new city, in a new school, and walking down the hallway, with groups of black girls walking behind me trash-talking and wanting to kick my butt because I was white.

    Being white, I can’t possibly know the black experience. But I can say I have experienced racism. It sucks. It’s frightening and confusing and it contributed to several years of my later teen and young adult life when my main thoughts centered around alternately contemplating suicide, and hating myself for being chicken to do it.

    Yes there were white people in America who owned slaves, and there were white people openly against slavery, and there were white people who risked their lives as part of the Underground Railroad, helping slaves to escape to freedom.

    I’m thinking that before you can be angry at any one in regard to slavery, you would need to know that person’s lineage. Did that person’s ancestors own slaves?, or did they fight against it?, did that person’s ancestors partake in the Underground Railroad or otherwise contribute to the ending slavery in America, or maybe a particular person’s and her ancestry had no connection to slavery whatsoever?

    My personal lineage had nothing to do with slavery and neither I nor anyone in my family has been hurtful to African Americans because of their skin color. I however, have been emotionally hurt by some African Americans because of my skin color, because they assumed, that being white, I was a bad person, the enemy, (when in fact, I was simply confused, frightened, and lonely) ……….and isn’t that the essence of racism?

    I don’t know why I’m sharing this now other than the fact that nearly 40 years later, although I’ve thought of it occasionally and it has affected who I now am, I hadn’t yet shared it, and something inside me felt the need to take this opportunity to do so.

    In my personal daily life, I often witness and am part of a lot of kindness and respect and general common courtesies between and among people of all skin colors.
    And I see that opportunities exist to do and be, whatever a person wants to do or be, for those willing to apply him or herself, regardless of color. I think it extremely sad skin color is still as much of a problem as it is, and that people carry so much anger because of it. Anger is poison to the angry person.

    America is far from the only country guilty of a slavery-tainted past. The following countries plus others were, and some still are countries of slaves and slave owners: Europe and western Africa, Great Britain, Portugal, unnamed Countries in Africa, Saudi Arabia, The Barbary Coast, Carthage, some interior African Tribes, also Spain, The Netherlands, France, and India, Scandinavia, Hungary, Swaziland, Indonesia, and Tunisia……….

    Sadly, even now in 2013, hundreds of thousands of children and young women (and young men) are enslaved, kidnapped or tricked prostitution and held hostage, forcibly raped numerous times a day. If you Google “Human Trafficking” or “Sex Slavery”, there are many organizations working to rescue these young people and children, and information as to how we can help.

  • Robert Beck (7/30/2012 1:18:00 PM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

    Bron, if you were a Christian you would forgive the past. I say get over it.

    Do you hate the Germans, the Japanese, the Russians, the Koreans, the Vietnamese,
    all of whom commented atrocities and slaughtered not only us but their on people.

    How can anyone still hate something that happen more than two hundred years ago and
    had no direct effect on you. You must have been taught to hate from your earliest childhood.

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    • Iyamuremye Wilfred (11/30/2012 3:19:00 AM) Post reply

      noooo, no Robert, you should not do it that way, i also think Bron has a point, the way she expresses her point of view means a lot to those who have ears and can hear, to those who have hearts and ... more

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