[repost from July 4, 2008]

Good afternoon b-boys and b-girls.

On this day, every year, two trains of thought depart from my cerebral platform. These twin locomotives parallel the concept of the Double Consciousness of Black Americans introduced to the world by W.E.B. Du Bois, and head in opposite directions. One is of the tradition of Thomas Jefferson, the eloquent, somewhat hypocritical (slave owner), and allegedly racially mixed Third President of the United States.

…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States…

These words make a 232 year celebration of the declared independence of the United States of America. They are indelible; just and necessary. They are a landmark in the history of all oppressed and free peoples; a foundation upon which many have been inspired to assert their unique identities as nation-states and to buckle the yoke of injustice and imperialism. However, the continued oppression of people of color, those of African decent in particular, propel another train from the same platform at light speed. This vehicle is best embodied by the words of another American Patriot, an orator that 76 years later forced listeners on an Independence day in antebellum America to focus on another evident truth about the democracy in which they lived.

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.
–Frederick Douglass, July 4, 1852.

Are times so different now? America has become the type of imperial power from which Jefferson and his colleagues sought succession.  How many black-op political assassinations occurred in democracies throughout the Third World for the protection of our economic interests? Our nation is spending 1.5 billion dollars a month on a war that has done nothing more than cause us to occupy another sovereign nation; an oil producing nation whose fields were given to Halliburton along with a blank check. We have soaring gas prices to show for it. Despite the faults of this country, its intended ideals remain the same: the America that Jefferson envisioned through rebellion, the America that Douglass attempted to awake through dissent.

We find ourselves in 2008 on the potential eve of a season of change. Imagine July 4, 2009, a year where the Presidential address on Independence Day may be an African-American. On such a day, it may be possible for both the words of both Jefferson and Douglass to be realized, at least partially. The election of Senator Barack Obama will not eradicate racial prejudice, poverty, or the disenfranchisement of oppressed peoples within this country. What it would provide, however, is a potential catalyst for lasting and sustainable change. In the years, decades, and centuries to follow, his words and deeds would be weighed and reflected upon in the same manner as the two men I have mentioned in this blog, amongst the company of other historical heavyweights. I pray that in the upcoming months that Senator Obama is able to fulfill the potential that we all see in him.

What I hope for is a future where my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren can celebrate The Fourth of July with a sense of pride and ownership that do not require a raging internal battle. How can anyone stand astride two moving trains and not be lost to division.

To the promise of change.


Timothy William Prolific Veit Jones