Monday, July 4, 2016

The Meaning of Independence Day

From my cultural and life experiences, the holidays celebrated in the United States of America have a variety of meanings.  Some, such as Memorial Day I have adopted due to the cultural meaning of the holiday and what it is intended to represent.  In the case of Memorial Day it has become a day to remember those who have passed on due to their involvement in military conflicts or due to losses in families.

July 4th, Independence Day, is another story.  The independence celebrated is that of the then American colonists declaration of no longer being governed by the ruling British.  During that period of the European American colonists separating from British rule, black people were serving under slavery in various parts of the colonies.  Black people were not treated as equals to European Americans.  The promise that the new world presented to Europeans was not offered to black people.  At the same time the annihilation of Native Americans was already in progress through planned aggression by European Americans.

So how should I feel about Independence Day?  Personally it's just another day.  A day where when I was in the working world was a day of rest.  A day to follow the "American tradition" of viewing fireworks, cooking on the grill and maybe gathering with family.  But now with kids grown and living their own separate lives, the family aspect had declined.  The thought of viewing fireworks does not entice me to want to drive somewhere to view them.  Been there and done that.

So for me labeled as being an African American, a male in his upper 50s, retired from the working world, it's now just another day.  This country seems to celebrate holidays in a robotic manner.  The meaning of the holiday may no longer be relevant, such as Columbus Day.  Or the holiday such as Independence Day may need refinement to account for the changing demographics in the country.

One thing I have come to understand is that many holidays in the United States are self indulgent. Some of the holidays do not take into account that the "accomplishments" celebrated are due to native cultures being overcome through violence, deceit, theft, and European Americans self proclaimed rights to conquer those who were already here.  Plus the unforgettable fact that people were brought into slavery in this country for the economic well being of European Americans.  Based on those facts I really don't have a reason to "celebrate" the Independence Day as envisioned some 200 plus years ago.

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