Happy Fourth of July, Meltingpot Readers!
I don’t know about you, but as an adult, the Fourth of July just isn’t as much fun as it was when I was a child. Growing up, the 4th was my favorite holiday. We decorated our bikes, participated in the neighborhood parades, played old-fashioned games at the park and ate ice cream. At night, it was a big family bar-b-cue followed by fireworks down by the lake.
Now that we live in Philadelphia, the birthplace of the nation, you’d think the 4th would be an even bigger deal, but somehow the thrill is gone for me. And part of the reason is that when we talk about celebrating our independence, the great hypocrisy of an independent nation with enslaved individuals as the backbone of the country’s success, just doesn’t sit well with me. What are we truly celebrating?
But, I’m not mad. I love this country and the independent spirit that defines it. And like I always do, I have found the way to honor ‘my people’ and their unique contributions to independence. So, instead of praising the founding fathers who saw fit to reduce their slaves to less than human status in their declaration of independence, I am celebrating the Black men and women who fought for their own independence, instead of waiting for it.
Since I have Black chefs on the mind and George Washington is kind all over the 4th of July holiday, I’m celebrating the life and courage of Washington’s excellent (enslaved) chef, Hercules. Known only by his first name, Hercules ruled the presidential kitchen with an iron skillet, replaced the previous White chef because his culinary skills were just that good, and was a budding entrepreneur who enjoyed a respected status in Free Black society in 18th century Philadelphia. But still, he was slave and that didn’t sit well with him. So he planned and executed a flawless escape. He fled on Washington’s 65th birthday, never to be heard from again. Now that’s freedom and independence I can celebrate. To read more about Hercules, and his culinary genius, check out this link.
And however you celebrate this day, make it a good one! BTW, we’re having tacos for dinner before the fireworks. That’s the Meltingpot way.