Juneteenth is a holiday celebrated on the 19th of June to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States. The holiday was first celebrated in Texas, where on that date in 1865, in the aftermath of the Civil War, slaves were declared free under the terms of the 1862 Emancipation Proclamation.
It is a holiday with ravages of loss underneath it and our tendency in this country is to do a lot of “back-then-things-were-terrible” talks. This makes us feel that progress has happened and can allow us to rest on our laurels. This is the mistake we must stop making. In fact, we need to be like our brave clients who may make mistakes and they face them with us while moving towards empowerment. White people must take full and consistent responsibility for the effects and the depths of systemic racism. Our “liberty for all” is always under construction.
After the murder of George Floyd some white people began to understand the level of pain and trauma for Black people and all people of color in this country. It is time for white people to stay at the work, not in the center of it. We need to stay awake to the breaking down of old beliefs and warmed up history so together we can build a future that is as impeccable and honorable. We WILL be able to point to integrity in education, in service of all people and our land WILL be beloved and belong to us ALL.
Let us note that American history has never moved in a line toward only progress; it has taken two steps forward and at times four steps backward. There are points where our cultural norms changed, and that change was good. We moved as a country toward more equity. Yet, we are not done! In fact, one of our beliefs about our country is how unfinished it is – how it is still quite new, still learning how to move ahead in a way that is not the march of white supremacy, or the sorrow-filled walk of the oppressed.
The being stuck is the conversations of “if we are racist” instead of the true gait of “when we are racist, we will do this next right thing to account, to amend and to change.” We move ahead because of the work we witnessed last summer by those who came into the streets to call for liberation, the guilty verdict (hard fought, in no way certain) for Derek Chauvin.
Our work at Wayside happens one Courageous Conversation at a time, where the goal is to create a new and shared understanding. In moments, a resolve, a forwardness and a moving in solidarity with all folx. We honor the Black lives lost physically, emotionally, and spiritually to the enslavement of Black bodies.
May JUNETEENTH remind us that we must keep working on our unfinished liberty for all.
Wayside Equity Training Center Team