The day before the historic streets of my hometown of Washington D.C. are possibly pulverized, by Donald Trump’s request for “Sherman tanks,” longtime childhood conflicts for me and many Black Americans are resurfacing. The Fourth of July celebrates the country’s independence. The day we memorialize as the beginning of independence from the British in America, my African ancestry had been slaves in this country for 157 years. Since the arrival of close to 20 Africans in Jamestown, Virginia life has since been a literal fight to survive.
Forced breeding, the stripping of culture, the selling of children and other family members—culminating in the insidious miscegenation through rape, that created my red-headed, light-skinned mother and a father of partial Ethiopian heritage, is forever a reminder of my historic past. When I was 14 years old in 1970, I was taught the song Lift Every Voice and Sing, adapted from the poem written by James Weldon Johnson. My junior high school English teacher, Ms. Earline Whittaker, who fought her own battle with the school board because she dared wear a dashiki and afro to class, enthusiastically and sternly insisted we learn the poem first, then the song. She also told us it was unofficially, “the Black National Anthem.”
My great-grandmother objected because she grew up in a time when blacks were taught to keep their heads down, adapt and accept. What she failed to explain; was what freedom was I celebrating on the Fourth when our people were in chains? Along with learning the song, we wore red, black and green patches affixed to our clothing and the girls wore scarves and headbands of the same colors: Red-for blood (martyrs), Black-for color(melanin) and Green-for land (soil). The current President of the U.S., who wants to exclude from society writ large, other people of color, is actively continuing vestiges of genocide, murder, and dehumanization.
The current administration has worked hard to keep the face of Harriet Tubman off the twenty-dollar bill. Aside from leading at least thirteen rescue missions to free slaves, the honorable Ms. Tubman served as a spy for the ‘Union Army’ against the traitors to America.
When was the last time you heard the name, Crispus Attucks?
As we prepare to celebrate the long, bloody, proud and oft time disgraceful history of America, historically the physical struggle began with the shooting death of a former slave named Crispus Attucks. July 4th Mr. Trump will take his racism, dog-whistling, xenophobic scare tactics and message of caging children to the American public, or at least to his cult of followers. He will do this standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the place where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dared to dream. I can only hope that the names of black and brown heroes like Crispus Attucks, Harriet Tubman or Luis Alvarez are uttered by the President. I have a tenuous hold on that hope, but one can believe that decency will prevail.
The military armament parade scheduled for tomorrow, that the President hopes will satisfy his despot envy, is not designed as a tribute to America, it is the sad attempt to make fascism acceptable from a small man with a large ego.
Vote in 2020 for Change.