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I’m not sure what’s louder this year, the sound of illegal fireworks exploding across the country or the cheers from some melanin-deprived miscreants eager to see the Supreme Court dismantle already stalled progress toward racial equity.

On the Fourth of July, there’s no better time to plot a reparative revolution.

Despite this day never being meant for us, we have the power and opportunity to hold space for Black liberation.

If your family is anything like mine, it’s a long wait before the cookout produces the delectable dinner and savory sides anytime kinfolk get together. The inevitable delay gives us plenty of time to have discussions with our loved ones about how we respond to the attacks on our communities; moreover, how we proactively plan for a future in which we aren’t simply a diversity checklist but are central to the American story.

The town of Tullahassee, Oklahoma, is one of over 50 original all-Black towns of Indian Territory and one of 13 remaining in the state.

Fourth of July: Independence for whom?

It’s understandable for many of us to wholeheartedly embrace the Fourth of July, as millions of Black families have served this country despite an unequal return on investment. Yet, it’s crucial that we use the moment to reimagine a society in which we aren’t simply asking for reparative justice but demanding it.

“What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July,” Frederick Douglass famously recited in 1852 after being asked to give a speech celebrating the holiday while millions of his kinfolk remained enslaved in the South.

Answering his own question, Douglass responded:

“To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy.”

Over 170 years later, the spirit of Douglass’ message echoes across generations in a country that has never come to terms with its original sin.

A bronze statue of the 19th-century orator, author, and abolitionist Frederick Douglass is seen in Emancipation Hall of the United States Visitor Center on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 19, 2013, where it was dedicated. | Associated Press

When they give us crumbs, let’s demand a loaf!

From Tulsa to Tuscaloosa, millions supporting the three last known living survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre wait anxiously for a judge to rule on their lawsuit seeking restitution for the destruction of Historic Greenwood, home to the original Black Wall Street.

The diabolical delay represents another symbol of the White power structure telling martyrs of racial hatred to wait for a more convenient season.

We must ignore the racial gaslighting from neighbors and politicians who want us to shun “wokeness” and be grateful for the progress we’ve made while they hold the snooze button over the continued ways in which this society constrains us politically, socially and economically.

As universities are forced to no longer consider race as a factor in college admissions, are we to celebrate the fact that we at least have free communities from which to learn, despite the gross inequalities in access to quality education?

It’s up to us.

As states continue to push forward laws aimed at making it harder for Black, BIPOC, and young people to vote, are we to celebrate the fact that at least we are no longer shot in the streets for attempting to register someone to vote?

With our median wealth projected to reach zero by 2053 due to decades of systemic racism and violence, are we to be grateful that we at least have the freedom to patronize any business we choose?

Moreover, hate crime statistics from the U.S. government show that year-over-year Black Americans are most targeted for racial violence. Should we take solace in the fact that at least the government is no longer sanctioning the violence?

Ultimately, on the Fourth of July and on every day, it’s up to each and every one of us to make the conscious choice to not only stay woke but to take action so that truth and justice don’t become mere ghosts haunting the guilty conscience of Americans. 

Therefore, it’s our duty to turn strange fruit into a bountiful harvest of reparations. Our ancestors demand it. Our descendants require it. We can’t give up.

Deon Osborne was born in Minneapolis, MN and raised in Lawton, OK before moving to Norman where he attended the University of Oklahoma. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Strategic Media and has...