What to Black People is the 4th of July?
By Salim Adofo (June 30, 2010)


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 faced living in America during that time. 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 increase the wealth of those that enslaved them. Africans in America suffered from inadequate health care and quality education. They were the victims of domestic terrorism, perpetrated on them by white supremacist gangs that would lynch and burn them at the stake. 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, to legally justify white supremacy, the Supreme Court of the United States, in what became known as the Dred Scott Decision, stated that Black people did not have any rights that a white person was bound to respect.

Now, over 150 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 2010, Blacks may no longer face "Jim Crow"; however, Blacks are confronted with "James Crow II." Overt acts of white supremacy have been replaced, in some cases, with INSTITUTIONALIZED WHITE SUPREMACY.

For example, in November of 2006 Sean Bell, an unarmed Black man, was shot 50 times on his wedding day by NYC police officers. He was shot for members of his car allegedly having a weapon, which was never found. None of the police officers have been convicted of criminal or civil charges. In December of 2009 Robbie Tolan, an unarmed Black man, was shot in his chest by a white police officer for allegedly stealing a car. The car was not stolen. The police officer was not convicted of any crime. In 1999,Law enforcement officials in the state of New Jersey have admitted to racial profiling, which is a violation of ones civil and human rights. All of the above stated incidents are still in line with and supported by the Supreme Court of the United States position that no Black Person, has any rights that a white person is bound to respect.

In May of 2010, the Texas school board has made it known that it seeks to eliminate slavery from its texts book as well 44th president of the US, Barak Obama. If this continues to happen Black children will not receive adequate information about their history in America and will continue to be mis-educated.

One could continue to list the atrocities that Africans in America are forced to grapple with. However the point stands that Black people in America have no reason to celebrate the 4th of July. Black people are less than 20 percent of the U.S. population but over 40 percent of the prison population. Blacks are still people suffering political oppression, economic exploitation and social degradation because of the white supremacist polices of the United States government and institutions. The only difference between then and now is Black people knew then who their enemy was.