How Africans in America Celebrate the Fourth of July

DIASPORA—How do Africans in America celebrate the Fourth of July?

There are many instances to this question, but it usually involves jollof or ugali with a side of hot dog. In the spirit of multiculturalism, many of us have added our own uniquely African spins to celebrations of the American holiday.

For some, the Fourth of July means bridging our respective cultures through what we eat, drink or listen to on the day, while for others it is simply treated as a day off where we get to stuff our faces and spend quality time with our families.

For some, it is a time to reflect on the many ways in which the United States, 240 years later, still blatantly denies freedom to several segments of the population. For the majority of us, it is a mixture of all of these things and more.

We asked some African folks living in America—first-gens, international students and more—how they celebrate Independence Day, and their answers ranged from slightly patriotic to “fuck a Fourth of July.” Read some of the responses below.


Paul B. Rakundo, Ugandan-American

“As a child my family did celebrate the 4th of July. Grew up in Ithaca, NY so we’d have a family BBQ at Stewart Park by Cayuga Lake. I think it was our family’s way to further connect to American culture.”

“As an adult though I’m not as active of a 4th of July celebrator. I guess it’s to do with time and my mom was more the “celebrate holidays” person. I also think the older I get, the more apprehensive I am to celebrate Independence Day because are we truly all free in this country? Just food for thought.”

Ifepo Bandy-Toyo, International Student from Nigeria

“My 4th of July experience was certainly different from that of my home country, Nigeria. Back home, our Independence Day mornings typically began with loud cheers of locals, banging of drums and shekere coming from the main street. We all dressed in green and white (flag colours), and walked towards the streets to watch several live bands and local dancers perform for hours.”

“Unlike Independence day traditions in Nigeria, the American 4th of July celebration was more of an intimate experience for me. It was a celebration that brought friends and family members together under one roof; the smell of barbecue filled the air as we gathered outside to eat and play games. Although both celebrations are distinct in nature, they share one thing in common: after sunset, in both nations people gather outside and celebrated freedom, through fireworks, through music and through loud cheers.”

Nelda Dafinis, Haitian-American

“Yeah, I definitely will spend time with my family cause cookouts are the epitome of black folk joy. But I always make sure to post about how this is some dumb ass shit. And I try to wear something un-patriotic. I celebrate Juneteenth. Not July 4th.”

“This is what I posted on Thanksgiving:”

Yup. #mood

A post shared by noirefemme (@noirefemme) on

Adebola Adedoyin, Nigerian-American

“I love to go to barbecues, eat burgers and hot dogs, watch fireworks, you know, regular American Fourth of July stuff.”

“Even if I didn’t live in a college town surrounded mainly by Americans, I’d probably still be looking forward to those things if I were back home with my family.”

Antoinette Isama, Nigerian-American

“We usually just go to some uncle’s cookout and eat. That’s it. We usually have the Nigerian staples. Sometimes we’d go to the park and some uncle and aunties would sneak in stout in the coolers so it wouldn’t get hot. A Fourth memory.”

Folarinle Fasida, Tanzanian and Nigerian-American

“I never really thought of how my family celebrates Independence Day until now. For me, Independence Day was just the day after my birthday when I got to sit on top of the family car and watch the fireworks, but now I am presented with this opportunity to talk about how my family celebrated Independence Day and maybe I am making too much of this or there maybe there is a deeper meaning behind why my parents searched for the grandest firework show to present to their kids.”

“Independence Day in our home is a celebration from matching t-shirts to hosting family BBQ’s Independence Day is a party. It is one of the few times in the year, were we are all home together and can truly come together as a family and celebrate. I think the reason why my parents searched for the grandest firework show was to show us the beauty that can occur when people of all walks of life come together and celebrate! We can create magic which I believe is the beauty of the Fourth of July. It is a sparkling display of our love for our country.”

Adetutu Osokoya, Nigerian-American

“I work for a company that is literally open 24/7 and 365 days a year. Working for this type of company means when the holidays come, someone has to volunteer to work in my department. Thankfully, I worked the last holiday, so I get to enjoy America’s Independence Day off.”

“My first order of business for the day is to do what I love doing best and that is sleeping in. The next plan is to get together with friends and get into some trouble, possibly at the beach. Living in south Florida, the beach is easily accessible and considered the thing to do on any given day. Knowing it’s July 4th things get busy because we have ‘guests’ from out of town enjoying our city. My friends and I like to get there early and relax on the beach all day, followed by some bar hoping with a few bites along the way. Once the sun sets and the evening is upon us, we prepare to watch fireworks as typical locals and bask in the wonder that is. This is my ideal 4th of July holiday. A few extra hours of sleep, much needed relaxation on the beach and hanging out with good friends around good food and good drink.”

 

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