CELEBRATING THE HOLIDAYS OF OUR CAPTORS
Today is July 4th and people are celebrating the Independence of the United States, and that would also include descendants of Slaves. Ironically, just as Blacks were converted to worship the man-god, JC, the god of the Slavers, they are also encouraged to observe the celebrations such as the Independence Day of the very people who have wreaked havoc and misery in their lives. Some Blacks are doing very well financially in the US and in other Slave Nations, but the great majority aren’t. Nevertheless, should descendants of Slaves throughout the world celebrate the holidays that identify the countries, the governments, and the flags that will forever be renowned as ensigns of the most cruel, barbaric, and heinous nations in the annals of history?
The following articles are presented to spark interest and to question whether it is a wise decision to follow the holidays, customs, religions, and practices of the very people who enslaved our forebears, who rule this country unjustly, and who influence our lives to follow their ways in order that they are sustained the dominant and superior force in this country and throughout the world. Tziona Yisrael
What to Black People is the 4th of July?
Submitted by math2112 on June 30, 2006 - 3:36pm. Race & Resistance
What to Black People is the 4th of July?
Brother Salim Adofo
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 to can't see in order to make white people rich. Black people were victims of lynching, bad health care 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, 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 2006, 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 INSTITUTIONAL WHITE SUPREMACY.
For example, Black people are disproportionately denied home loans which are essential to building wealth. Gentrification is a tool that is used to lower the property value in Black neighborhoods. The land is then purchased by white-owned corporations who raise the cost so that Blacks can no longer buy property or live in the area, because the price and or the taxes are too high.
In the area of politics, 150 years ago Black people were not allowed to vote. Today Blacks are allowed to vote; however, based on the last presidential election, the votes of Black women and men are not even counted. Many Black communities have been gerrymandered to reduce the voting power of the Black community.
In the arena of law enforcement, Blacks still have no rights that white people are bound to respect. An example of this can be seen in the case of Amadou Diallo. An unarmed, innocent Black man, shot at 41 times by four white cops who were found not guilty of any crime.
Law enforcement officials in the state of New Jersey have admitted to racial profiling, which is a violation of one’s civil and human rights. Police officers are caught on video beating Black men, in some cases to death, with sticks, flashlights and plungers.
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.
Black people still have yet to receive full and complete reparations for slavery and the vestiges of it. Blacks cannot even go into restaurants such as Denny's and Cracker Barrel and expect to get service.
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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Black people were denied vanilla ice cream
in the Jim Crow south – except on Independence Day
One result of legalized racism in America was this strange limit, which helped teach kids the rules of a segregated society
- It was only 60 years ago that this would have been an unheard of sight in the south. Photograph: My Mundane Life / Flickr
- By custom rather than by law, black folks were best off if they weren't caught eating vanilla ice cream in public in the Jim Crow South, except – the narrative always stipulates – on the Fourth of July. I heard it from my father growing up myself, and the memory of that all-but-unspoken rule seems to be unique to the generation born between World War I and World War II.
- But if Maya Angelou hadn't said it in her classic autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, I doubt anybody would believe it today.
- People in Stamps used to say that the whites in our town were so prejudiced that a Negro couldn't buy vanilla ice cream. Except on July Fourth. Other days he had to be satisfied with chocolate.
- Vanilla ice cream – flavored with a Nahuatl spice indigenous to Mexico, the cultivation of which was improved by an enslaved black man named Edmund Albius on the colonized Réunion island in the Indian Ocean, now predominately grown on the largest island of the African continent, Madagascar, and served wrapped in the conical invention of a Middle Eastern immigrant – was the symbol of the American dream. That its pure, white sweetness was then routinely denied to the grandchildren of the enslaved was a dream deferred indeed.
- What makes the vanilla ice cream story less folk memory and more truth is that the terror and shame of living in the purgatory between the Civil War and civil rights movement was often communicated in ways that reinforced to children what the rules of that life were, and what was in store for them if they broke them.
- My father, for instance, first learned the rules when he first visited South Carolina with my grandfather in the 1940s. In our family's home county of Lancaster, Daddy asked the general store owner if he could buy some candy and ice cream, referring to the white man as "Sir". The store owner promptly grabbed my father by the collar, and yelled at him in the presence of my grandfather. Then he informed the elder man, "You'd better teach this little nigger to say 'Yassuh', boy! 'Sir' ain't good enough!" My grandfather grabbed his son and sped off.
- The late poet Audre Lorde had a similar narrative to Angelou's in her own autobiography, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name. She visited Washington DC with her family as a child, around Independence Day, and her parents wanted to treat her to vanilla ice cream at a soda shop. They were rebuffed by the waitress and refused service. She expressed disappointment at her family and sisters for not decrying the act as anything but "anti-American". She summed up the event:
- The waitress was white, the counter was white, and the ice cream I never ate in Washington DC that summer I left childhood was white, and the white heat and white pavement and white pavement and white stone monuments of my first Washington summer made me sick to my stomach for the rest of the trip.
- Why were black people allowed vanilla ice cream, but on the Fourth of July? Why then? After all, in 1852 Frederick Douglass railed against the idea of celebrating Americans' independence when blacks did not have their full, God-given freedom. "What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?", asked Douglass of his audience when invited to speak in commemoration of the day.
- I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.
- Was that somehow the purpose of allowing the denied ice cream cone? Was it a pacifier? Was it a message to us that, as long as we obeyed the rules, we could still be occasionally rewarded with just enough to keep us patriotic and loyal?
- But perhaps it is pointless to ask for more than context.
- The period during which African Americans were not allowed to eat vanilla ice cream tells us a lot about where this memory is located in time: a period of great progress driven by black Americans themselves. It was a time when our forefathers fought for this country and when our foremothers organized marches to protest lynching; when the mass migration from south to north took place; and when labor organizations became vehicles for early pressure for civil rights. The nadir of black life in America – the period from the born at end of Reconstruction through the full entrenchment of Jim Crow – was firmly on its way out.
- That period of time also represented a closing of the gates of immigration from Europe, the slow rise of the United States as a world power, and the increasing unification of the idea and principles of "whiteness". In 1910, for instance, "white" did not mean Italian, Jewish, Greek, Polish or any of a variety of other ethnicities we now unequivocally associate with privilege. It was, instead, still a term largely reserved for the "old Americans" – those of northwestern European stock. But that changed – at least for some of the Europeans who wound up on America's shores.
- In the south in particular, new ethnic whites quickly did all they could to assimilate and then affirm their whiteness – to not do so was death, as demonstrated by the lynchings of Sicilians in Louisiana and the lynching of Leo Frank, who was Jewish, in Georgia in the pre-war decades. Little things took on outsized meanings, and each was another way to differentiate between those who "belonged", and those who were barely tolerated.
- Perhaps the memory of being denied vanilla ice cream is not a literal memory for most: maybe it is just commentary. There is fantastic power in this fascinating memory of Jim Crow life because it calls our attention to the deeper psychological consequences of legalized racism in American life. The racism of the time period was not just about dignity and self-esteem – it was embodied and mythologized in physical terms.
- So in a way, the denial of vanilla (and all its symbolic promise) was not so bad after all: indeed satisfaction, with "chocolate" is now emblematic of people of color being supported by and being self sufficient in their own communities. Without this exact satisfaction in our sense of beauty, worth, mind and purpose – without having learned to live without vanilla – we never would have fought to change the world.
Should African-Americans Celebrate July 4th?
African-Americans were slaves during the signing of The Declaration of Independence. So, should people of African descent in this country celebrate the Fourth of July?
Posted by Janita Poe , February 06, 2012 at 10:12 AM
While many Americans, no matter their racial or ethnic background, see July 4th as a patriotic time of fireworks and barbecues, some in the African-American community do not believe in celebrating the holiday.
This is because the Fourth of July commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence—on July 4, 1776—and many people of African descent were slaves during that time.
On one Facebook page of The Black Report, a conversation has continued for more than a year on the question of black Americans celebrating the 4th.
"As long as you claim to be an american citizen, african or otherwise you should celebrate the nation's independence," a man named Eardley wrote. "Also not all black people in our country now are decendents of american slaves."
A woman named India had a different view. She said she does not celebrate July 4th or Thanksgiving because of the wars between Native Americans and Europeans which eventually resulted in the creation of the United State of America.
"...what does July 4th fourth mean to you?" she wrote. "It means nothing to me, I'll celebrate Juneteenth along with many other African Americans here and around the world."
The debate over this holiday doesn't end here. Popular WAOK-1380 AM Radio personality Derrick Boazman discussed the topic and read passages from Frederick Douglass' "What, to the American Slave, is Your 4th of July?" (See www.juneteenth.us to read the entire speech and learn more about The National Juneteenth Network).
So, once again, we have another July 4th. Should African-Americans celebrate this holiday? What do you think? Share your views today on Cascade Patch.