Hey Joe: With the Fourth of July just around the corner, I'm wondering what our nation has to celebrate in 2007. We've started a tremendously unpopular war in Iraq, our grip as a military and economic superpower is slipping away, and reality TV seems to be the only thing that binds us together anymore. Should we tone down the booze, fireworks and flag-waving this year?
Brent Rowley, Chicago, Illinois
At a young age, I could hardly wait until the Fourth of July and Christmas. But growing up black in our society, I eventually learned that both were frauds. Back then during the Fourth, my parents would give me money — or I would hustle for it myself — to purchase fireworks in celebration of a holiday whose meaning or history I didn't understand until the civil rights movement. But nothing is more scintillating than to read Frederick Douglass' version of "The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro," a speech he delivered in Rochester, New York, on July 5, 1852.
As for Christmas, nobody has been able to describe Santa Claus better than the comedian Dick Gregory: "Now you know it has to be fantasy for a fat white man in a red suit to be in the black community with a bag on his back late at night bellowing, 'Ho, ho, ho.'" You'd have thought he was Don Imus. Better yet, our parents — working menial jobs — paid for the toys we received and lied to us about Santa bringing them. In so many instances today, I hear about the manless black family, the destruction of the black family and so forth. It seems to me that, years back, our mothers and fathers didn't help the situation by giving credit to somebody else for what they did. Don't you think this was damaging to kids who thought their parents did nothing for them at Christmas?
Sometimes, when pondering over such things and their remedies, I drift off into a dream world. I imagine a battery of high-profile black intellectual lawyers, who would file a lawsuit against the United States for the damage done to blacks for over 300 years. It would only prove that the Declaration of Independence consisted of a group of people who broke free from another controlling group, only to control blacks. The Constitution bears witness to this. Only the interest on the free labor that blacks' forefathers provided would be sought. Each adult black male and female would become an instant millionaire. (More money than that has been pumped into the Iraq war.)
Black offspring of those forefathers have only received Aid to Dependent Children. In addition to the black family being destroyed during bondage, there is also a catch to receiving ADC: A black male companion is not allowed to live in the household. In my book, ADC stands for "A Dedicated Citizen" — one who, in addition to all other contributions, had to fight the government to get into the military and fight the enemy to protect the country. That's what's called patriotism.