Today is a big celebration day in Texas and I miss the community of celebrating Juneteenth in a state that is historically racist, but Texans show up for Juneteenth. I know Biden made it a federal holiday and that is all good and well and err-thang, but you know I have been thinking about the scraps from the masters table. I’m not excited it is a federal holiday because it was always celebrated were I’m from; federal no.
I want to talk a little about “scraps” that make us normalize how we are still fighting for scraps. Never quite sure if we will ever be part of the larger “We” of these United States because in 2021, Biden made a federal holiday of the day that Texans were duped and two years were stolen, in the name of freedom. I am talking about the two years it took for officials to get the word that President Lincoln outlawed slavery. The Emancipation Proclamation, that gave slaves their freedom, was held for two years in the southern states where cotton was king. The plantation owners had to get every ounce of work out of the slaves, to get their crop to market.
There were other strategies that were used to make sure there was always a supply of free labor from the newly freed slaves. Prison was the backup plan to shift the focus from plantation life to prison life: no jobs, no land to farm, no place to live (sharecropping), it worked. The plan was and is ingenious. The same government that just declared Juneteenth a federal holiday, is the same government that continues to disproportionately lock up Black and Brown folks.
So am I excited that Juneteenth is a federal holiday? Was I excited that Martin Luther King day became a federal holiday? Was I excited and proud when President Obama took office? Was I excited when President Obama secured a second term? The honest answer is yes and no. I am thinking of the sacrifices Black and Brown folk are still making for the scraps that we are so excited to have.
I was having a conversation with some East African folks about what Juneteenth means to me and I came to the conclusion that the reason why I feel so disconnected from the larger “We” is because it never was intended to be a collective “We”. It is a fact that we as Black folks were basically kidnapped and forced to work for free. All the while experiencing horrible mistreatment and even death. There has been no government reparations for what was taken from Black folks. (I do not believe there will be reparations by the way: that is just too much truth for white folks to take.) We are still fighting the same fight, being hunted and killed at the same astronomical rate: what actually has changed?
It is a time of celebration and a time to mourn for all those who have lost their lives. So while I celebrate Juneteenth being a federal holiday, I have to remind myself: we as a people cannot survive off scraps.
I ain’t trying to piss on anyone’s parade, but seriously??