Now more than ever, it is important for families to gather around the dinner table and engage in meaningful and thoughtful conversation if we are ever to move from this current state of chaos and confusion in this country. Black families should gather around the dinner table and educate their children about the complicated relationship the United States of America has with us due to the sins of slavery. Black families should educate their children about the fact that we did not come from slaves. We come from a group of people that were stolen from their homeland and enslaved in a country they were not familiar with, did not understand the language, and had no knowledge of the customs. White families should gather around the dinner table and educate their children about slavery and how their ancestors enslaved another group of people, and how that has led to the marginalization, oppression, and racism of this group of people. For white families, this should be done in a way to not make their children feel bad but to educate so that these actions do not occur again and so that these children understand that racism should not exist in this country and they should not act in racist and bigoted ways. White families should educate their children so that they understand that they are not being held accountable for the actions of their ancestors but they also cannot treat black children with the same view that the enslaved people of their ancestors’ time were treated. For both Black and White families, these conversations should be done in a way to unify the country and undo the damage that slavery and racism has done to this country and the people that are its citizens.
I have periodically been reading The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. DuBois. This book was written in 1903 but many of its arguments and statements still hold true for this country today. One sentence from the book reads, “The Nation has not yet found peace from its sin…” I interpreted that sin to be slavery. As I read that sentence, it made me think exactly what does the 4th of July or Independence Day mean to Black people? It is my belief that the chaos and division we are experiencing in this country are because the United States has never appropriately dealt with the sin of slavery and its impact on many generations of Black people. For too long, America has allowed the southern states to glorify that time of slavery and the Civil War without addressing the horrible stain it left on all people in this country. As I write this, I was horrified to learn that schools in Texas want to teach about slavery by calling it an involuntary relocation. We must remember that Texas was the last state to end slavery, and that was only after the army came in two years later in 1865 to ensure that all enslaved people in that state were set free; which is how we came to have Juneteenth. This current action in Texas is a direct result of this country not appropriately dealing with slavery.
So, this leads me to ask a similar question that I posed when I wrote about Juneteenth. What is Independence Day to Black people? What is the 4th of July to Black people when our ancestors were enslaved in a country that boasted to be the home of the free? What is Independence Day to Black people when we have politicians that have continued to propagandize anything related to having true equality among the races? What is Independence Day to Black people when the police are still killing/murdering unarmed Black men and White men who are committing mass murders are walking away unharmed? What is Independence Day to Black people when extreme groups spouting racism, hatred, bigotry, and xenophobia are being supported by politicians who took an oath to serve all people? What is Independence Day to Black People when many Black communities are still under resourced, over policed, marginalized, and oppressed? What is Independence Day to Black people when White people want to dummy down slavery to protect their egos and White Children but Black children still continue to experience the brunt of attitudes from slavery and racism?
I don’t ask these questions or say these things because I hate America. No, I hate racism. I hate hatred directed at people who may be considered different. I hate ignorance. I hate inequality and marginalization and oppression. I hate anything that is dividing this country. I say these things because I want the country to be better. I want all of us to confront and challenge our own racist attitudes and beliefs so that we can get rid of them and build a country that is beneficial to all its citizens. I say these things because I want to leave this country and world a better place for my nieces, for the children in my family, and for all children; so that the United States of America can be the world leader it once was. I say these things because this country cannot thrive if racism and hatred on this level is allowed to continue to grow. I say these things because Independence should be for All regardless of the color of your skin, ethnicity, race, culture, language spoken, socioeconomic status, age, sexual orientation, gender, or anything else.
I am believing and hoping for a better United States of America, Dr. Daphne