Tag Archives: African American Studies

The 4th of July

Every fourth of July, Black folks pull out their soapboxes and give their best Frederick Douglass impressions.

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants brass fronted impudence; your shout of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanks-givings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour. – “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro,” 7/5/1852

Okay. Now, I understand where Douglass and my opinionated Black folks are coming from. In 1776, people of color were very much NOT apart of the American identiry as far as the colonists were concerned. We were their slaves and considered less than human. While the newly independent Americans danced in the streets and pat themselves on the back for a job well done, African slaves and their descendants were breaking their backs to keep the baby country running. It would be almost one hundred years before Blacks were free and even longer before we could touch some of the trappings of real freedom. Trust, I get it. I majored in African & African-American Studies for goodness sake! Some of my best friends are bourgie negroes and no one is more opinionated and militant than bourgie negroes sometimes.

Still, I don’t think we ought to completely ignore the significance of the 4th of July. Think about it, a group of people who, for their entire lives had only  known the rule of a monarch, came together under a common goal to fight for what they believed in. A bunch of scrappy, young colonials versus the history and power of His Majesty and they won. It all culminated in the signing of the Declaration of Independence, one of the most significant documents in US history. If that’s not your basic David and Goliath, good versus evil, fight for what you believe in type of allegory than I don’t know what is.

Recognizing the “fantasy” of it all, one can’t deny that the 4th of July and the fight for independence is a romanticized story but it’s the kind that nations and movements are built upon. Sure, the story isn’t ALL good because among the things they were fighting for was the prerogative to continue perpetuating the chattel slavery that brought many of us here AND to keep all of the profits for themselves instead of being bled by the Crown. (If you remember, Britain had at least taken a stand on the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and cut out the taking of Africans from Africa.)

Y'all ain't fire up the grill yet?

A good story like the Revolution if important to our history. OUR history as a world community and Black community. Other nations have been inspired by American independence like France, for example. When civil rights activists were fighting for equal rights and partiy, they did so based on their claims as Americans and cited many of the same principles the revolutionists clung to back in the 18th century. While his criticism was warranted and justified, even Douglass had to give credit where due,

Fellow Citizens, I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. They were great men, too great enough to give frame to a great age. It does not often happen to a nation to raise, at one time, such a number of truly great men. The point from which I am compelled to view them is not, certainly, the most favorable; and yet I cannot contemplate their great deeds with less than admiration. They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory….

So I can’t really clap to all of the “Fuck the Farce of July” stuff floating out there today. If for nothing else, I can’t take folks seriously if they can so easily put aside their principles and conviction for a BBQ, some sparklers and a day off from work.

Leave a comment

Filed under Routine Ramblings


How do you feel about Kwanzaa?  I have never celebrated Kwanzaa. I don’t think my family knew much about it and frankly, they didn’t care. I learned about it in my after school programs that were run by afrocentric staff. I mean, we did a mini rites of passage thing one summer, so you know they were on their Kwanzaa game.

Clicking around the internet, I see that a lot of people dismiss Kwanzaa as the “Black Christmas” or they hate on it because it was invented. Well, ALL holidays are invented. Shoot, I just watched a documentary on Christmas and saw how monarchies, governments and religious powers all shaped Christmas celebrations to suit particular needs. Jesus wasn’t even born anywhere near Dec. 25th! President’s Day was certainly “invented” so I don’t get trashing Kwanzaa because it was invented.

That Black Christmas thing, well that’s just false. However, I think it ‘s how most people view Kwanzaa and therefore do not take a closer look at what the holiday has to offer.  Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

African-American Studies

or Afro-American Studies or Africana Studies or Black studies. WhatEVER! The discipline has different names at different institutions. That was my undergraduate major (techinically African and African-American Studies). When I decided to major in Afam (as we called it), people questioned my choice. “What are you going to do with that? Be a teacher?” and they belittled the work that I did. “Oh, that’s the easy major. That’s the one all the atheletes choose.” My response: “Negro, please.”

I actually think that’s kind of rude and pretty ignorant. While the discipline of Afam Studies is fairly new in relation to English Literature and not as clear a path to a particular career like Computer Science, that doesn’t mean that it’s just some bullshit major. I chose Afam after taking some classes in the department. I was really intrigued and figured I’d do better in school if I majored in something that was actually interesting. Prior to that, I was a journalism major with a minor in French.

I was in the Dunkin’ Donuts the other day and overheard two folks discussing Black Studies (as they called it). They were grad students. The girl voiced her frustration with people discounting Black Studies as just a “program” at the school. She referred to it as a discipline and went on about it being a legitimate piece of academia, even moreso important because of its activist component. What she meant was, not only does Black Studies foster academic growth and discussion like any other discipline, but it kind of calls for its students to put what they learn into practice or invest their intellectual capital back into the community. At least that has been my experience.

At Carolina, the mission of the African/African American Studies Department is as follows: Continue reading


Filed under Routine Ramblings