July 4th 2021 is an opportunity to tell new stories of patriotism to form a more perfect union.
Let’s tell true stories – not fictitious tales of “founding fathers” as whitewashed and censored as a child’s education in N. Korea —
American history is filled with heroes of all colors and creeds to be proud of.
I get a steady drizzle of messages from freaked out, confused white people accusing me of hating white people or who’ve been whipped into a frenzy of fear at looking at our flawed past.
If you’re a white person struggling to find reflective figures on the right side of early American history, there are so many legacies to find role models and inspiration: Quaker Ben Lay, James Otis, Gouverneur Morris, John Brown, Daniel Shays, Ralph Waldo Emerson, the radical republicans who hoped to reshape the south post civil war, white women like Elizabeth Heyrick, Frances Wright, and Elizabeth Margaret Chandler and so many more. Tons to identify with.
To be proud of America is to celebrate the beauty, the culture, the music, the art, the technological achievements of people who came from all over the world with a dream of freedom and self determination that was a genocidal nightmare for first nations and families kidnapped and torn apart by slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, the war on drugs, and an apartheid in healthcare, housing, jobs and education.
Let us face the reality that July 4th celebrates British aristocratic independence from the crown of England with the help of France.
It also marks a time when white aristocrats made a conscious hard hearted decision to deny the righteous pleas of slaves and anti-slavery advocates, and enshrined slavery in its first constitution for the expediency of collecting taxes to pay their massive revolutionary war debts borrowed from Europe.
It was at that moment America’s struggle for human rights began anew for Native, Black, women, POC, white working class… the 99.9% of us. All of us.
Even Thomas Jefferson said the constitution should change every 19 to 20 years — and even a tree knows its job is to grow or it will perish.
As long as such a large portion of white America has a false origin story and false identity it will cling to the most preposterous of suicidal fictions peddled by cynical grifters — as if their lives depended on it.
We see that with the big lie of a stolen election, of cannibal democrats, covid denial, q-anon, the denial of systemic racism or the climate crisis, thinking its a marxist socialist plot to look at history honestly… and so much more.
The consequence of going to war against reality is not only a permanently divided nation, but self destruction.
On this day let us remember the past in all its healing truth — and revisit the great American hero, the abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman Frederick Douglass – who spoke these words on July 5 in 1852:
“The existence of slavery in this country brands your republicanism as a sham, your humanity as a base pretence, and your Christianity as a lie. It destroys your moral power abroad; it corrupts your politicians at home. It saps the foundation of religion; it makes your name a hissing, and a bye-word to a mocking earth.
It is the antagonistic force in your government, the only thing that seriously disturbs and endangers your Union.
It fetters your progress; it is the enemy of improvement, the deadly foe of education; it fosters pride; it breeds insolence; it promotes vice; it shelters crime; it is a curse to the earth that supports it; and yet, you cling to it, as if it were the sheet anchor of all your hopes.
Oh! be warned! be warned! a horrible reptile is coiled up in your nation’s bosom; the venomous creature is nursing at the tender breast of your youthful republic; for the love of God, tear away, and fling from you the hideous monster, and let the weight of twenty millions crush and destroy it forever!
But it is answered in reply to all this, that precisely what I have now denounced is, in fact, guaranteed and sanctioned by the Constitution of the United States; that the right to hold and to hunt slaves is a part of that Constitution framed by the illustrious Fathers of this Republic.”
Frederick Douglass – “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” (1852)
May we remember, repent, atone, repair and renew ourselves for the betterment and ennoblement of each other, our ancestors and their children. May you have a safe and happy weekend. May you be in inner peace and strength of character regardless of outside circumstance.
Matthew Cooke On FB