Good Afternoon, readers! Lens of The People is a column dedicated to the capture of the real-life scenarios and events in the local Houston area whilst also giving the thoughts and opinions of the Houston community itself its own voice to speak through.
“‘What to the slave is the 4th of July?’ Fredrick Douglass asked this question almost 200 years ago, and though we are not slaves, the idea that we as Black people shouldn’t celebrate the nations so-called Independence Day still rings home. In 1776, we were not a part of the new found freedom in the colonies, but a step, a small one, was taken towards the idea that our founding fathers had. That idea has taken the scenic route in getting to us, but it is here and I’m thankful for it. I’m thankful for Fred Douglass telling the president this day is yours not ours, I’m thankful for the white guys who wrote the words life liberty and the pursuit of happiness and I’m thankful for the countless amount of Black lives that it took to get here. So, for me, the 4th of July is a day of remembrance and thanksgiving.”-Matthew Daugherty
“Why shouldn’t the 4th of July be celebrated? It’s a day for our patriotic Americans to celebrate the Constitution, or at the very least the basis of which it stands for. It makes sense. Barbecue, fireworks, gunfire, to each their own with their family and friends. I don’t think it gets any more American than that.”-Kareah Keith
“Well for me the 4th of July isn’t a holiday just another day to maybe get off of work and do what I want. It is America’s Independence Day, so it makes sense for them to celebrate, but it doesn’t make sense for minorities, especially black people, to celebrate because we were not free or independent. If America wants to be a country that acknowledges all Americans and learns from the past then it shouldn’t be celebrated, but we all know that that is off brand for this country so it is expected for them to continue to teach American exceptionalism and celebrate freedom for some Americans. The Americans that matter.”-Marsae Johnson
“I don’t celebrate America’s successful rebellion. Honestly though, considering all the unavoidable factors, especially slavery and the design of a flexible constitution, I am grateful we ended up with America and not Great Britain. Still, personally, I don’t celebrate the day. I think the African American should remember his relationship with Christ through the biblical scriptures. He should reflect over the history he has with the development of the church (and some evidence would suggest before it, with his people as truly descendants of Israel and the tribe of Judah). I believe doing so would reveal a lot about the socio-cultural identity he so craves, and bring about a sustainable conviction to seek true justice.”-Tyrelle John Haney
Although we just celebrated the holiday again, the 4th of July, especially within the current social climate that we currently reside in, is certainly a cause for debate. I’ve never cared much for the holiday outside of merely a means to celebrate with my friends and family, and I find even less of a reason to do so the older I get. This country was built atop genocide, displacement and slavery. That much is true and absolutely cannot be forgotten. Despite this, however, I don’t believe that the holiday should be simply done away with. I believe instead that the 4th of July should instead be looked at as a time of both reflection and memorandum for everyone living here. I want the country to not celebrate the founding of America because truthfully I believe that it is nothing to be proud of. I believe that instead the day should be dedicated to truly understanding what it is that got America where it is today and truly grasping the importance of the freedoms and equalities, though far from ideal we do enjoy that it cannot be said for the past.
This was Lens of The People, a column dedicated to giving the Houston community a voice and a platform. Stay on the lookout for more, all made possible by The Forward Times!