As America ramps up its gratuitous Independence Day celebrations, the chasm between what this day means to a majority of White Americans and what this day means - and does not mean - to Black folks has never been wider. In the midst of a worldwide global pandemic, police injustice, and an economic recession, all of which disproportionately harm Black communities, I have found myself reflecting on the nature of independence and what that idea means for us. If rebellion is the lifeblood of independence, then it is worth asking, in this current moment what do we need to rebel against?
Sometimes only the unfolding of seismic events can shake us from our complacency and apathy. 2020 has given us enough seismic activity to shake the comfort of even the most privileged. However, despite the negatives many of our families have been forced to endure, we have the immediate opportunity and challenge to create new realities that can guide our post-pandemic, post-recession, and current rebellion world. I think about the rebellions of our ancestors. The long twelve years the Haitian people rebelled against the French. Or the short few days Nat Turner led a rebellion against American slavery in Virginia. The rebellion of young people claiming Black Power in the 60’s and over a million black men rebelling against their own character flaws in 1995. Rebellion is the precursor to independence and true freedom.
Now is the time for each of us to assess what we need to rebel against in our own lives. Daily I am plagued by my own thoughts that seem so deeply impacted by my conditioning by white supremacy that I wonder if I will ever be free of it. I see brothers of mine enslaved by low expectations and small visions. Still, I see young men trapped in an image of masculinity that justifies violence against their sisters as acceptable. We all are being called on to rebel against something in order to experience an often inconceivable freedom.
But these rebellions are psychological and emotional more than they are physical. Challenging us to assess our thought process, the things we choose to believe, and even the people we allow to pour into us. This rebellion I am speaking of requires us to reject the inhumanity of not feeling so that in our acknowledgment of pain, hurt, disappointment, and even joy we are freed of the antiquated notions of manhood that says my strength is rooted in my inhumanity. So I choose to rebel against the energies and content that are intentionally designed to keep me bound.
I assess the energies that I allow into my physical, mental and emotional spaces. What energies should we gravitate towards brothers that we have often ignored or devalued? Conversely, which energies should we avoid? What websites should we visit, books should we be reading, music and podcasts should we be listening to right now? What will enlighten us on how to assert our independence? From the culture we consume to the people we choose to associate with, it is crucial to rebel against those things that are not serving our divine destiny and purpose. This rebellion pushes us towards an often long-overdue internal battle that is a bridge to independence.
Unsurprisingly, when we stop to genuinely reflect on what is serving us and what isn’t, in the quiet spaces between our own thoughts we can reimagine what we are capable of. After all, rebellion often reveals for us a glimpse of our true power. I define Power as the ability to boundlessly imagine and pursue the fullest manifestation of who we were born to become. With that power at our disposal, we can conceptualize a whole new vision of what is possible. That is FREEDOM.
So let us celebrate our independence. No, not this nation’s independence from a distant British Empire. Instead let us celebrate our independence from antiquated ideas, outdated narratives, and negative energies and the shackles of white supremacy that have prevented us from acknowledging our own power. Personally, I am looking forward to experiencing what my life could be with this newfound power. I hope you are as well.