Sankofa Study Circle

Monday, July 2, 2012

What to Black People is the 4th of July?

By Brother Salim K. T. Adofo
National Vice Chairperson
National Black United Front

 
On July 5, 1852, in a meeting sponsored by the anti-lynching society, Frederick Douglass gave the speech "What to the slave is the 4th of July?" In his speech, he illustrated the terrible conditions that Black people face, living in America. He showed the contradiction of white America celebrating freedom, but at the same time denying it to Black people.

During the time of Frederick Douglass, white America was enjoying the "good life," and Black people were working from can't see in the morning to can't see at night, in order to make white people rich. Black people were victims of lynchings, unable to vote, and lack of education.

White supremacist gangs would terrorize Black people and take their land. Black people were not allowed to engage in politics or own businesses, which would have helped Blacks gain control of their communities and become self sufficient. Also, according to the Supreme Court of the United States, in what became known as the Dred Scott Decision, Black people did not have any rights that a white person was bound to respect.

Now, 160 years later, we must ask the question, "What to Black People is the 4th of July?" Do Black people have a reason to celebrate the freedom and independence of America?

In 2012, Blacks may no longer face "Jim Crow"; however, Blacks are confronted with a more sophisticated version titled "James Crow the II." Overt acts of white supremacy have been replaced, in some cases, with Institutional White Supremacy.

For example, mainstream America will have you believe that the 13th Amendment of the Constitution freed African people from slavery, however it only legalized it. The 13th Amendment reads:


Therefore if you are convicted of a crime, you can be subjugated to "legal slavery."

This has proven to be very significant, because Black people are less than 20% percent of the population, yet are over 40% of the prison population. Once a Black person has a felony record, she or he is often denied government jobs, can no longer qualify for financial aid for college, disqualified from residing in government housing, and in many states disqualified from voting.

If one is unable to have a place to live, work, obtain a job, pay for school or is unable to vote to change the laws, she or he is being maneuvered into an illegal activity, just to survive.

160 years later, Blacks are still people suffering political oppression, economic exploitation and social degradation because of the white supremacist polices of the United States government and its economic institutions. The only difference between then and now is Black people knew then who their enemy was.

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