I don’t know what to think of July 4th.  Every year for the last 229 years our nation’s birthday rolls around and we celebrate with spectacular fireworks displays and barbecues.  It’s the day that summer really begins in most people’s minds.  It signals the start of road trip season.  This is when we are most proud to be Americans.  I truly cannot think of a place I’d rather live than the U.S., but at the same time I can’t help but think about what America’s independance from Great Britain meant for our ancestors. 

It meant almost nine more decades of slavery.  It meant that an entire people would be the uncompensated labor force that would help build a nation into a world power.  Had it not been for the economics of slavery, the U.S. would have never enjoyed the wealth that it did then, and that it does today.  There were only 13 colonies when the Declaration of Independance was signed and put through by Congress.  By the start of the Civil War in 1861 there were 34 states, 11 of which were slave states.  No matter how you look at it that’s a lot of growth in a short period of time and in no small part due to slavery. 

Again, I’m not sure how black folks should celebrate July 4th.  Maybe we should celebrate by acknowledging that black people did not gain their independence on that day, and remembering that this country would not be great, and would have died young were it not for our ancestors.  I don’t know if we should be proud of that fact or not, or if it’s something we just think about in quiet introspection.   

What I do know is that it’s up to us to tell our children