Thunder rolls across the sky this morning. Feels symbolic of all that it’s taken to get us, as a country, to this day. June 19, 1866 was the day that slaves in Texas were actually told they were free; a full two years after the emancipation! Juneteenth became a celebration commemorating that day. But yesterday, it became a recognized Federal Holiday. 155 years later.
And it happens during a year marked with protests that erupted across the states for justice for Black men seemingly being targeted by White policemen. Black Lives Matter became a slogan on t-shirts, posters, flags, yard signs and more. That slogan drew anger from Trump (then president), his supporters, and other far right extremist groups who countered back with “Blue Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter”.
But the simple fact is Black people have been the ones unjustly treated even though they were supposedly freed 155 years ago. And now to top it off, many states are demanding that schools stop teaching “Critical Race Theory”. At a time when awareness is finally growing regarding segregation, impacts of an unequal criminal justice system, and the legacy of enslavement of Black Americans.
And the thunder rolls
Critical Race Theory was actually part of a legal analysis done in the 70’s and 80’s highlighting examples of situations that caused disparity for Black people. Today, these disparities live on through discrimination tactics surrounding things like affordable housing limits in predominately White neighborhoods. So, it’s hard to claim that Critical Race Theory is a school curriculum thing but that’s where states have landed. Put the issue on the schools to balance and we’ll be the watch dogs to ban anything that we feel shines a negative light on White people.
And as I write that, the thunder subsides. We are a country founded on principles of skewed equality and justice. And if exposed, it will mean leveling a field that we don’t want leveled.
The emancipation freed slaves but sent them out into an angry mob. And when the slaves tried to work their way to states that seemed more accepting, they were met with rules; neighborhoods designed just for them to live segregated from White’s, schools funded by property taxes distributed by wealth so poor neighborhoods would have less quality education keeping poor people poor, laws that unfairly incarcerated more Black people than any other with long prison sentences to “Keep them off the streets”. And all of this has allowed White people to continue to view Black people as apparently lazy, drug addicted criminals.
Wouldn’t it be nice if Juneteenth ended up being a real emancipation for people of color. Instead, the official holiday was signed into law as states are working overtime to restrict voter rights and now close discussions in schools that might hint at an understanding of how racist this country really is.