If you were one of the many white people in America who found yourself saying, if Juneteenth is such a big holiday why didn’t I know about it? Well, I have a few answers for you. And if you were saying, why haven’t I ever been invited to any Juneteenth celebration, I have a few answers for you as well.
If you didn’t know about Juneteenth you have got to reflect on your education because someone is not teaching you all about true American history. I know, you went to a good school. So did I. Now is time to think about why “good” is a relative term.
If you didn’t know about Juneteenth even though you have “a black friend”? Maybe it’s time to reflect on the term “friend” and also think about the conversations you have had with this friend and the questions you have asked them about their lives, their culture, and their existence.
And if you were wondering why you’ve never been invited to a Juneteenth celebration, here’s a few possibilities to consider:
White people and their long history of horrendous actions are the reason why a Juneteenth celebration is even necessary.
White people are largely responsible for every physical, psychological, spiritual, economic, and emotional scar Black America ever fought to be free of. We (and I am using the historic “we”which includes all of us no matter what your excuse might be -nobody gets off the hook here) are the ones who purchased them rather than treated them as humans, shipped them over in hellish conditions, stripped them of their language, religion, culture, families, and innocence, as well as their physical well-being, their names, and their identity We stole everything from them. And then we followed that up by working them to death, whipping them, calling them dehumanizing names, beating, and raping them. When that wasn’t enough we killed them.
So, having survived all that as a people, would you invite Jason Vorhees to your party?
And that is not really an exaggerated metaphor. Our ancestors spent over 400 years being monsters to anyone with another skin tone. We did. Out of greed. Out of fear. Out of lust. Out of deep-seated, handed down hate for The Other.
We earned our rep, we earned the exclusion. We should understand that the reason it wasn’t even on some of our radars was because we haven’t thought enough of our fellow human beings to make ourselves aware.
Feel uncomfortable yet? We should. We’re the reason they drink red drinks as part of the Juneteenth celebration. We spilled the blood they’re honoring.
And we’re still doing it. From taking almost nine minutes to murder a man over a question of $20 to killing them in their homes to stopping and frisking to calling 911 in a public park over a reasonable request, we are still the monsters that haunt their nightmares.
Every snub at work. Every skewered business, banking, real estate, and job market “policy” that fixes the game. Every casual exclusion, insult, and racist comment followed by “no offense”. Each unwarranted following by store security, and so much more.
Every coded political message and campaign speech. Every gerrymandered election district and voting requirement design to suppress votes of color.
God forgive us, we could go on for days.
We as a group have invaded every aspect of their lives and we have the hubris to wonder why people are fed up?
None of us are without sin, me included. Hate the way all this makes you feel? Think. How does it make them feel? How has it made them feel for over 400 years?
And it is on us. We need to change. Not review, investigate, take under consideration, or propose some steps to appease. We need change that reaches back to our ancestors (like the racists we have statues and portraits of). We need to reconsider iconography (no more fun with racist flags), holidays, names on buildings, streets, parks, etc.
Most urgently, we need to listen (and maybe really hear for the first time), look (and maybe really see for the first time), and learn that to be truly human is to embrace all of humanity as one.