What in this world could more important than an entire race of human beings winning back their freedom?
You have likely seen many posts on social media featuring the term ‘Juneteeth,’ but are you aware of what the day stands for? Juneteenth is the commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States, but it should not only be recognized by Black Americans. The day will be commemorated by many Black Americans this Friday, June 19th while the country continues to be divided and a focus on race has been jolted back to forefront following the killing of George Floyd. But, it’s a topic that is worthy of staying at the forefront all the time…rather than becoming another tragic trend that everyone seems to focus on right now. This is a topic that I challenge each and every one of you, platforms big and small, to cement as a regular, permanent conversation in your networks.
Stop saying stupid things
Yes, I get it. We ‘white people,’ often debate the idea that we are not racist by saying things like “I’m not racist, I have black friends,” “I don’t even see color, I’m color blind.” While I hope your intentions are pure, this is not the way we as white people show our support for our brothers and sisters of color. First, stop using the fact that you “have black friends,” as any kind of proof that you are not prejudiced in any way. The simple fact you are using that phrase as your debate stage is an argument for the exact opposite. I know, as white people, that can seem confusing. But look at it this way, don’t use your “black friends,” as a token to prove anything. Use your actions. Show and passionately fight for equality in everything you do and say.
Also, to my fellow white Americans, STOP saying you are color blind. Because you’re not. We are all different and we all have different shades of skin tone and hair color and eye color. We are all short and tall and fat and skinny. Whatever those characteristics are they make up our identity. By saying you are color blind you are stripping the black community and other men and women of color of the very thing they have fought to hold on to. They are proud they are black and they are proud they are Asian or Hispanic and so on. It is not about being ‘color blind,’ it is about how you receive those differences. What you do and don’t do. Do treat them like a living, breathing, human being that is worth and capable of as much as you are. Don’t assume anything until you get to know that individual, unique, person.
And also, STOP demanding that we stop talking about race. Quit assuming that once we stop talking about it the problems just go away. It’s the exact opposite. Differences will be here among each of us for as long as time. The only way to reach a status of true peace in this world is to fully see those differences and in the same heartbeat, fully accept and love them. I mean, or you can make that argument about ending the conversation…you know…that could have been the fix for achieving women’s rights, bringing an end to the Holocoust…just stop talking about it and the problems will go away. Yea, I went there and no…I’m not sorry.
Get yourself educated
Back to the topic of Juneteenth. First of all, why is it not a nationally recognized holiday? What in this world could more important than an entire race of human beings winning back their freedom? To have the ability to have real lives with real families that aren’t ripped apart by the disgusting idea of selling other human beings. To have a real and fair chance to make a living and see “the American dream” from a first-person perspective. To have a voice, to make decisions for themselves…I could go on and on. Try and imagine, my fellow white people, just for a moment if anyone ever tried to take away your civil liberties. Your rights. Good lord…we would be up in arms! “How dare you say I can’t own a gun!” “I can say whatever I want about the President, it’s a free country.” Yea, what a world that would be.
Now, go back to the fact of that feeling times a million…that’s what our brothers and sisters are still recovering from. The act of being a victim to slavery is not something you simply “get over,” or “move past,” or just stop remembering because time has gone by.
We’ve become disassociated with the real, devastating meaning behind the words ‘slavery,’ and ‘racism.’ We’ve become numb and so used to hearing those words through mainstream media that we’ve allowed ourselves to distance from the real definitions. And yes, it’s much more than the first definition you see when you Google it: “The state of being a slave.” Try: “The state of being in constant and consistent fear, agony, and loneliness while having your human worth diminished to zero as you are bought and sold, ripped away from your loved ones, abused and tortured, forced to live in unimaginable environments, and having endless feeling of hopeless as your future, hopes, dreams, desires are taken from you.”
Yea, it sounds intense because it was.
And as for ‘racism,’ while the first Google definition is a bit more specific: “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized,” it also does not even begin to truly tap into the emotion involved. That lives have been lost, taken at the hand of racism.
We have and do hear those words a lot. Maybe it’s time we really start thinking about the true, uncomfortable definitions.
Yes, we ARE privileged
Look, I get it. I used to be the one that made the ignorant assumption that the idea of “white privilege” had something to do with special scholarships and a TV network. Let me just say to any of my brothers and sisters of color reading this…I realize now what a JOKE that was and I am even embarrassed to admit that was me. But it was. That whole saying, “knowledge is power,” is true and also helps stop you from looking stupid.
The idea of white privilege has nothing to do with those things. White people…ask yourself a few questions:
- Have you ever been followed in a store because you looked suspicious?
- Do you have a second thought about anything other than your argument for getting out of a ticket when you get pulled over?
- In the last few years when black men and women have died at the hands of authorities have you felt the urgency to sit your kids down and have a serious talk about the dangers they face?
- Has anyone ever made an argument that they are not racist by using you as their token “white friend?”
Yea…that’s what I thought. And no, I’m not saying all police are bad, just for the record. Let’s get that out of the way. But, black people aren’t saying that either. They are pushing for a change that is rooted much deeper than the example currently with law enforcement. They are fighting for a change in the heart of police, of our children, of doctors, of you, of me…they are fighting for a revolution in the way we love and accept and respect one another. Law enforcement happens to be the dominant example of racism and prejudice that the media picks up on. It is FAR from the only example that happens every single day…it’s just the one that we hear most about and therefore it’s the ready-platform for us to speak on and use as proof that change and growth is still desperately needed in this country and in every single one of us.
So, white people, let’s stop the fighting. Stop the bickering and name-calling and drama trying to frantically swim to the surface for air when the fact is…we all breathe. We are ALL human. We are ALL people with hopes and dreams and desires.
Let’s talk about the police
The fact is, there are good cops and bad cops. Just the same with every group of people. You are correct about that. We have powerful, influential law enforcement members and other local leaders that are on our side. While we should not assume they are all working against us, because that simply is not the case, we should and are expected to ask questions. To hold our leaders accountable. But, it’s not about continuing to drive a wedge between one another. It’s about finding unity and working together constructively, all of us pulling our own weight so that we can achieve reform and change.
So, to the white person that says ‘not all cops are bad,’ black people aren’t saying that either. But, this is where we are at right now and so to those officers…those good officers…those just local leaders…let your community know you see that the value of human life is not debatable. Talk to us, open the conversation, offer full transparency and let’s make things better.
Good is good is good…
So, if you can be so invested in recognizing things like green beer and milkshakes on St. Patrick’s Day or tacos on Tuesday…let’s come together as one and recognize something that truly changed the world. I fully plan to celebrate the liberation of my amazing, inspiring, and powerful brothers and sisters of color.
I am not inviting you to join me…I am holding you accountable and expecting you to join me. If you don’t, I hope you remember it as you celebrate the 4th of July in a couple of weeks. Why is YOUR liberation more important than anyone else’s?
White people…let’s get our act together.
- On June 19th, 1865/66, Gen. Gordon Granger arrived with Union soldiers in Galveston, Texas, and announced to enslaved African Americans that the Civil War had ended and that they were free. More than two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
- The holiday gets its name from the combination of June and Nineteenth.
- It is also known as Emancipation Day, Juneteenth Independence Day, and Black Independence Day.
- Celebrations are held in most states if not all.
- Celebrations tend to be more prominent in the South with events such as picnics, rodeos, religious components like church ceremonies, and education and historical services for children.
- In the last 15 to 20 years, companies have started celebrating it too.