Thursday, September 18, 2008

Frederick Douglass "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July"

On National Day, it seems EVERYONE should share the happiness of the country, as a reconfirm of one’s national identity. However, it’s not always the case. Many people might be ignored, or unequally treated under the same sky. At the time of Douglass, he focused on American slavery in this speech. He was very sensitively aware of the difference, as he stressed, “It is the birthday of your National Independence, and of your political freedom,” and “this Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.” He even questioned “what have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence?”

Along with the development of history, slavery was doomed as predicted. More and more attention and rights were given to Black and other minority groups, resulting in an American “melting pot.” However, after coming to America, I was kind of shocked by the fact that racism is still the most severe social problem within this society. When volunteering at the American’s biggest homeless shelter at Washington DC, which is just a couple of blocks away from those government buildings, and which dwells mostly by black people, I was deeply touched. The problem of racial inequality has never been really solved, and there’s still a long way to go.

But I believe hope is also on the way. Douglass truly expressed what I want to say, “Your nation is so young.” It’s a fortune or blessing for a young nation, as it has enough time to try though the human experiment. In comparison to America, China is too old to get out of its own historical cycle, which was already repeated for thousands of years. Just as what Douglass said, “Were the nation older, the patriot’s heart might be sadder, and the reformer’s brow heavier.”

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