I have always been a proud native Texan but today, June 19th or Juneteenth, my pride is raised a little higher. Texas was the first state to declare Juneteenth a holiday and I heard a news report this morning that our Senator from Texas, John Cornyn, will introduce legislation to make it a federal holiday. I was surprised that President Trump told the Wall Street Journal that he had made the date famous, that no one had ever heard of it. As a Texan I have always known of Juneteenth and what it stands for. In history, it was that day in 1865 that Union Army General Gordon Granger announced the total emancipation of those held as slaves in Texas. We all know the end of slavery did not come with that simple announcement, and the path forward for African Americans since that day has been full of obstacles, setbacks, and fraught with injustice and unfairness. Our country is still facing those issues today.
Thank you to those who reached out to me after my initial email offering your support and assistance as we work together as individuals and an association to address social injustice and strive to make the availability of substance use disorder services fair, equal, and inclusive for all people of color. Expanding our workforce to represent the diversity of our state’s population is a key piece in that. We also all need to expand our understanding as well.
In my recent conversations many people are asking, what can I do, and how do I gain a better understanding of my own blind spots and underlying biases. We are all a product of our environment and our perspective is tied to our experiences. I don’t gain the perspective of another without having conversation, asking questions, and being intentional in learning about the world outside of my own experience. That’s not always a comfortable process but we challenge our clients/patients to get out of their comfort zone all the time. We must take on that challenge ourselves in order to be able to tackle the hard issues of racial inequality and social injustice.
So let’s celebrate Juneteenth by spending some time broadening our own understanding. Meaningful conversations are always the best opportunities but we may not all be able to do that today. I offer you the list below of resources that I hope you will consider investing some time with, and follow that by making connections with others from whom you can learn about their experience and perspective. Sharing our experience, strength, and hope is foundational to recovery. Let’s be sure we take it outside of support group rooms and treatment center talk and practice that in all areas of our lives!
I continue to appreciate your feedback and input,
Sherri Layton, LCDC, CCS
Thank you to Shadow Mountain Lodge for the initial list of resources, and to Dr. Kimberly Scales-Fair for offering additional material.