Why Some Have An Issue With Juneteenth But Can Happily Celebrate The 4th of July

How the myth of "Blackwashing" history erases Black existence.

Petiri Ira

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Photo by Moose Photos

Black people recently celebrated Juneteenth on the 19th of June and now that the 4th of July is here, some Americans are getting ready to celebrate the holiday with dignity and pride. Although, as Juneteenth comes around each year, it faces waves of backlash. With some people asking why Black Americans get a holiday in the first place. The pattern is the same every year; some White Americans resort to centering themselves whenever June approaches and then are confused as to why some Black people do not recognise or celebrate the 4th of July.

Juneteenth is a holiday that celebrates the freedom of Black people in America when the end of slavery was proclaimed. Whereas the 4th of July is an annual celebration that commemorates the nation's declaration of independence from British rule in 1776. These two holidays are starkly different from each other. Their histories on American soil cannot even begin to be compared.

Juneteenth and the 4th of July juxtaposed

What is the 4th of July to a Black person? On July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglass gave a keynote address at an Independence Day celebration and asked, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” Douglass challenged the hypocrisy of celebrating the Fourth of July while slavery still existed in the United States. He questioned the meaning of independence and freedom for enslaved African Americans who were denied basic human rights. This frames the issues Black people still face today. Celebrating a holiday that boasts the principles of freedom, equality and unity in a nation that has not yet and systemically robs non-White people of these values is contradictory. This explains why Black Americans do not recognise the holiday and choose to celebrate holidays that speak to their history and existence.

On the 4th of July, 1776 the Declaration of Independence was adopted. The Declaration of Independence was not written for Black people or with Black people's rights in mind. When drafted, it proclaimed that “all men are created equal” and that they possess “certain unalienable rights” such as “life, liberty, and the…

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Petiri Ira

Bylines in Screenshot Media, gal-dem, Malalafund, Momentum, ZORA. Contact: petiriira@gmail.com