Black Folks Can Feel However We Want To Feel About July 4th

Juneteenth flag

“For just in case I end up at somebody’s celebration tomorrow..”

I shared a picture of this shirt online a couple of days ago, and was met with some affirmation and understanding. One of the things that I appreciate even through these troublesome time is that, at least in some of the circles I inhabit, there’s a steadily increasing consciousness and critical interrogation of the history of America; specifically around certain holidays.

“Until the lion has it’s historian, the tales of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” —Igbo proverb

From days like Columbus day, to Thanksgiving, and others, there are people who continue to challenge the lies, omissions, hypocrisy in the common tellings of the history of America; who challenge America to be true to what it says on paper, while in many ways acknowledging the fact that they weren’t considered fully human when the papers were written; a problem that persists to this day.

The 4th of July is firmly rooted in that history, and while I was affirmed in witnessing other Black folks publicly dissent the idea of some commonly held narrative about independence day, and acknowledge the blatant hypocrisy within that celebration, I was disheartened to see narratives our there that served to label those who publicly dissent as complainers or problem-starters.

If you’re a Black person who feels some type of way about the 4th of July, and decides to express it either publicly or privately, know this:

Naming a problem is not creating a problem

You are simply acknowledging what is already present. Although we are a people who are often told that what we’re experiencing isn’t real, I just want to serve as a voice to tell you that it’s not you that’s sick; it’s the system. Well, unless you are actually sick because of the many health disparities that have been created from the enforcement of White Supremacy, but still, it’s not your fault, no matter how many times you are told that it is.


Whether you choose to celebrate it full on, whether it’s just a day off to celebrate community with your loved ones, if you rally that it should be a national day of atonement, or use the time some other way, as a Black person in America, you are entitled to feel however you want to feel about the 4th of July.


From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins-Jones, MSW, LLMSW

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Relando Thompkins-Jones

I'm a Social Justice Educator and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities. "Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian" is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

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