portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reposts united states

anti-racism | community building

What to Black People is the 4th of July?

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.
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.

Akoben Enterprises
P.O. Box 860133 Wahiawa HI 96786
808 621 0707

homepage: homepage: http://montfu65@hotmail.com

say it 30.Jun.2006 17:01


you can say that again. laws are for non africanancestry in this country. no ''justice'' at all for me. its gettiong tiresome and reaching breaking point

readings on Democracy Now of Douglas' speech 01.Jul.2006 04:12

good reminder

iday, July 2nd, 2004
"You May Rejoice, I Must Mourn" - Fredrick Douglass' Fourth of July Oration


Monday, February 20th, 2006
Readings From Howard Zinn's "Voices of a People's History of the United States"


KATRINA 01.Jul.2006 09:14


i think that the situation occuring in the gulf after katrina says it all loud and clear. "while us rich 'white' males are running the show, you red people, you brown people, you black people will not be fully recognized as human, ever."

katrina 01.Jul.2006 17:00

good reminder

I think the word "rich" says it all. elitism breeds classism, racism, sexism and all the other hate-isms

Re: What To Black People Is The 4th Of July? 03.Jul.2006 11:21

Dee Allen.

Your essay [and Douglass's] said it all. With things such as the results of the 2000 Presidential election; Hurricane Katrina and its endresults; New Orleans city government denying its Black citizens the right to return to their own city; police brutality/harassment; real estate-gentrification; the overwhelmingly Black prisoner populace in penitentaries nationwide; the case of former Black Anarchist political prisoner Sherman Austin; redlining carried out by banks and the calculated destruction of South Central Farm [which also in turn destroyed poor Blacks's ability to both grow their own decent, organic food and connect with nature]; and denial of employment opportunities by some companies based on a Black person's name, our people have nothing to celebrate on Amerikkkan Independence Day. NOTHING. For as long as I could remember, I've always viewed July 4th the way people in foreign lands viewed July 4th: As just another day. Nothing more.

U.$. patriotism is for those who are deluded enough to believe in the "land of the free, home of the brave" hype they've been fed for so long. Former/present career military people, bikers, policemen, firemen and rednekkks [that was not a typo]--working poor Whites, particularly those in the Midwestern and mostly Southern U.$.--are the most notorious for delusional-to-the-point-of-prejudiced behaviour.

By the way: This may come as a shock to you, but every Denny's I've walked into have actually served me food. Even when they used to have the free birthday meal in effect.

it means nothing 03.Jul.2006 21:42

forest dweller

The 4th of July means absolutely nothing to the Indigenous peoples of
Turtle Island either.

Action? 05.Jul.2006 15:22

Rain Man

So what can people do? I am white so yes, I dont get much directed at me, but my black roomate gets it all the time. I think your essay would be more effective if it did more than raise awareness. I think awareness is good and all, but then what...