1001 Black Men #999


The man in this drawing was was one of a handful of other Black people I saw at the Fourth of July fireworks display I attended last year in Benbow, Humboldt County, California. There are very few people in Benbow (population 321), but the fireworks display was incredible! Each burst of color and fire and light was more impressive than the one before, and the display went on for much longer than I’d anticipated. Even so, the pyrotechnics team left the crowd begging for more.

If you’ve ever been in East Oakland during the Fourth of July holiday, you may get the impression that young brothas are the most patriotic people in these United States–that is, if the purchase and use of illegal unsanctioned fireworks is any indication of committed to God and country. Back in 2007, I briefly rented a house at the edge of East Oakland. The house had a terrace on the back; and on the Fourth of July, I could stand on that terrace and see all the unsanctioned fireworks being set off on the surrounding streets. I have to give these young brothers their due; there is no doubt in my mind that the display I could see from my terrace was bigger and more lavish than the official fireworks displays in certain small towns, but certainly not bigger that the no-holds-barred awesome display I saw in Benbow.

Ajuan Mance


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