As a black American and native Texan, Juneteenth is a very special unofficial holiday for me, in light of the fact that the holiday originated in Texas. Juneteenth (19 June) marks the day in 1865 that Union General Gordon Granger read General Order #3 to the people of Texas. This is more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. As a native Texan I learned the significance of Juneteenth as a small child.
I won’t delve too deeply into the history of Juneteenth in this post. You can read about the history at the link below.
In this post, I want to express how bittersweet it is that this unofficial holiday, that I and many Americans (not just black Americans), celebrate is only being highlighted due to the the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and other black Americans in the middle of a pandemic. It actually took a series of tragedies to motivate state governments and corporations to start to officially recognize Juneteenth.
I would express elation for this surprising development, but I cannot help but think this budding official recognition is just political pandering in an election year and corporate appeasement in order to make money than a genuine gesture.
My cynical point of view aside, I am also hopeful. I am hopeful that despite my suspicions, this nascent racial enlightenment leads our society to a better place.
Of course, racism and hatred do not just disappear overnight and profound change is slow and methodical.
In addition to that caveat, I offer a couple of more…
Let us not as a society subscribe to victimology or feelings of lament over the loss of perceived hegemony. Let us not retreat to tribalism over petty slights fomented by those who profit or benefit from racial divisiveness and hold a platform for dispensing their vitriol and victimhood narratives.
We have come a long way, but we have a long way to go.
Happy Juneteenth, America! 🇺🇸
-The Rational Ram