Thinking about Race, Nationalism , and Mending the Color Line on the 4th of July

Happy 4th of July. Because my work requires me to read more on black nationalism of late, I am going to chill today with Ralph Ellison and W.E.B. Du Bois and think about their concept of two-ness, while pondering Frederick Douglass’ “4th of July Speech” by the hotel pool here in Ft. Worth, Texas. There is much to celebrate as more and more Americans have crossed Du Bois’s proverbial color line here in the 21st century. This is reflected by the interracial solidarity following the Charleston massacre. Further, for the first time black Americans can embrace the notion that many of our white brothers and sisters are calling for the Confederate flag to be removed, seeing that flags are the greatest symbol of national identity. There are a few blacks that argue the 4th of July is a day blacks should not embrace since its inception was not about black national identity. I say it is about black identity.

Douglass spoke to enslaved Negros through his “4th of July Speech” about their plight, and questioned American churches, democracy, ideology, and the make up of capitalism as driving forces for stagnation. We have seen today that we have overcome the past complacent narrative and must now use today to think about our future narrative. Du Bois’s double-consciousness describes the two-ness of being African and American. Ellison’s “Invisible Man” ponders identity in thinking about the American journey of race. So, I say let us not party too much. Let us think about Du Bois’s problem of the 20th century, which he saw as the color line. How might we forge past the old calculus and start anew. Let us focus on one national flag: a flag that encompasses the ugliness of slavery, Jim Crow, and poverty; but a flag that is beautiful in its ability to advance multiracial gatherings and celebrations of how far Americans have mended the color line. Let us make the American flag one of love; it can be used to think about poor people, solving problems of homelessness and food insecurity, embracing Christians, Muslims, Jews, and non-believers. The flag is now mended in the equality of love for our LGBTQ neighbors; it offers hope as being a flag not seen by others as a driving machine for imperialism and the evils of capitalism, but one that seeks to advance all other nations.

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