What is the 4th of July to Me — 2017

We are sitting out back reading and listening to Frederick Douglass ask What to the Slave (or Negro) is the 4th of July? This 4th of July is yours — not mine, as Douglass notes. White America elected a white supremacist in our age of furthering oppression. Though no longer slaves — I ask — how many white allies are with us in championing our missing voices — in leadership and in change. This 4th is not mine. Black folk — have you read this? Spend time pondering the language of Douglass, as he notes,

“…You may well cherish the memory of such men. They were great in their day and generation. Their solid manhood stands out the more as we contrast it with these degenerate times….This Fourth [of] July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation whose crimes, lowering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrecoverable ruin! I can to-day take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people!”

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.

Dinner Guests

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Wow! We are being wined and dined and treated like royalty here in Vermont at Julia and Randy Hesses’ Vermont home. Excellent colleagues and friends. We really like Vermont. This weekend constitutes our very first visit. This state lives up to the hype. We witnessed a great fireworks show too. Here is a pic of us with Randy.

Vermont

While having wine outside in preparation for dinner, I was sharing my list of top 12 dinner guest. So, here it is:

1. W.E.B. Du Bois
2. Malcolm X
3. Helen Keller
4. Harper Lee
5. Carson McCullers
6. Karl Marx
7. Clade McKay
8. Arthus Ashe
9. Richard Wright
10. Zora Neal Hurston
11. Joseph Conrad
12. Ralph Ellison

Embracing Pluralism on the 4th of July

This clip of actor Bill Pullman portraying the President of the United States, in the movie Independence Day, is one of my favorites. I recycle this post each year due to its message. This clip showcases a sense of global unification and the spirit of one, rather than a world in constant conflict over petty matters, such as: territory, race, religion, and national/ethnic identity. Unfortunately, it took an invasion from aliens in a fictional film before the world realized that we should love each other, regardless of  our identity; it is about upholding the greatest sense of spirit that exists… the human spirit. The 21st century has arrived and we should move beyond tolerance, which simply means accepting one by law. We should subscribe to a universal spirit of love. Let us put our petty differences aside and accept that we live in a world of diversity. Pluralism defines us. Hence, our stubborn beliefs will not change the world, but only bring about further animosity. So, on this 4th of July, I ask all people to embrace today as a global celebration — not just an American one. Make it a day in which we can love regardless of our own beliefs.

Embracing Pluralism on the 4th of July

This clip of actor Bill Pullman portraying the President of the United States, in the movie Independence Day, is one of my favorites. It showcases a sense of global unification and the spirit of one, rather than a world in constant conflict over petty matters, such as: territory, race, religion, and national/ethnic identity. Unfortunately, it took an invasion from aliens in a fictional film before the world realized that we should love each other, regardless of  our identity; it is about upholding the greatest sense of spirit that exists… the human spirit. The 21st century has arrived and we should move beyond tolerance, which simply means accepting one by law. We should subscribe to a universal spirit of love. Let us put our petty differences aside and accept that we live in a world of diversity. Pluralism defines us. Hence, our stubborn beliefs will not change the world, but only bring about further animosity. So, on this 4th of July, I ask all people to embrace today as a global celebration — not just an American one. Make it a day in which we can love regardless of our own beliefs.

 

A Day at the Park

Janette and I spent the 4th of July with 42,000 others watching the Astros beat up on the Cubs. I am a huge fan of attending baseball games; however, watching them on TV is difficult. This was the second time in the last ten years we spent the 4th watching a game. As a history instructor, I have spent little time reflecting on the significance of July 4th, 1776. However, I do find myself thinking about the late historian Richard Hofstadter’s criticism of the so called “founding fathers.”
Janette and I had a great time.