He wrote that the country’s newly designated holiday, Juneteenth, which commemorates the emancipation of African American slaves, casts a “long shadow over Independence Day, making it look like a hypocrite and a damn fool.”
“Independence for who?” Touré wrote of the Fourth of July in an op-ed for theGrio. “It wasn’t independence for Black people, for our ancestors, so why would we celebrate the Fourth of July?”
The writer said his criticism of the day wasn’t merely because Americans owned slaves when the nation became independent from Britain, but because slavery “was completely wrapped up in the movement to become independent.”
He cited Nikole Hannah-Jones’ Pulitzer Prize-winning essay for the “1619 Project” which noted that one of the main reasons the colonies sought independence was to protect the institution of slavery.
He also noted that Thomas Jefferson’s first draft of the Declaration of Independence had included a section condemning slavery, despite being a slaveowner himself. That section was rejected by Congress, he added, and a Constitution that “protected slavery without mentioning it” was passed.
“This reminds me of today, a time when white supremacy shapes American life so deeply that white people are fighting against the teaching of Critical Race Theory because nowadays, as it was back in the early days of America, this country is both engaged in racism and in working hard to pretend it’s not,” Touré wrote.
“America has never been the land of liberty and justice for all; those words have never meant anything to Black people, but we have fought to make America more American—more free and more just.
“We are critical to America moving closer to living up to its promise. We are critical to America. But it’s still f**k Fourth of July for me.”
He also wondered what his enslaved ancestors thought on the first Independence Day “as they watched people celebrate independence as they, kidnapped people who had been trafficked across the sea and were being tortured so others could grow wealthy? What did they think of this spectacle?”
He quoted Frederick Douglass’ speech “What To The Slave is the Fourth Of July?” which said the day reveals “more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim.”
“We still see shocking and sometimes bloody things happening to Black bodies because of the people of America,” he added. “So miss me with your Fourth of July celebration this year and every year. The only independence day I recognize is Juneteenth.”