As with any disease, one must be made aware of its presence before it can be properly treated or cured. In addition to COVID-19, there is another viral disease that is threatening the health and well-being of everyone in U.S. at this time. It is the disease of racism, inequality, cultural insensitivity, and social injustice. This calls for shining a brighter light of understanding on these threats because of how different Father’s Day is going to be for too many families and communities this year, and how much more important the recognition of Juneteenth will be. Hopefully, this can be the launching of greater enlightenment and true emancipation.
Let’s Remember The Gravitas Of This Father’s Day
Most of us think of June as the month we celebrate Fathers. We recognize the roles they play in our lives, and shop for that precious gift that shows our appreciation. This year, however, Father’s Day takes on a more somber tone as we remember that there are many children who have lost their fathers since last Father’s Day – George Floyd’s little daughter being at the top of the list, and many others in years past. In addition, many people have also lost their fathers to COVID-19.
If you still have a father to celebrate, shower him with all the love and affection you can. We all hope and pray that if he is a man of color, soon he and his children will be able to freely walk the streets of this country without being afraid for their lives. Currently, not just men of color, but all people – mothers, children, communities – are in fear; not only the fear of hatred from those who seem unable to tolerate anyone who doesn’t look like them, talk like them, or believe as they do, but also living in fear of the system of injustice, inequality, and human rights violation. Everyone is hoping and praying that the racism and injustice that has been festering just beneath the surface and is now so openly revealed will finally be addressed, treated, and eliminated. Just as effectively as polio was eradicated, or as the world is furiously working to search for a cure for the coronavirus, we also hope that our nation will actively search for the cure for racism, inequality, and social injustice at all levels.
Perhaps This Juneteenth Will Mark The Beginning Of True Freedom
Below is the official proclamation made on June 19, 1865 to the last state in the union that continued the practice of slavery:
“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.” —General Orders, Number 3; Headquarters District of Texas, Galveston, June 19, 1865 https://www.pbs.org/wnet/african-americans-many-rivers-to-cross/history/what-is-juneteenth/
Juneteenth may have been the official end of slavery, but it was not the end of racial prejudice. We are in the midst of being made aware of that right now. This gives Juneteenth a place of even greater significance this year. Perhaps future generations will be celebrating Juneteenth as a day that marks the beginning of true freedom for all people of color.
Harvard Professor, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. wrote, “Of all Emancipation Day observances, Juneteenth falls closest to the summer solstice (this Friday, June 21), the longest day of the year, when the sun, at its zenith, defies the darkness in every state, including those once shadowed by slavery. By choosing to celebrate the last place in the South that freedom touched — reflecting the mystical glow of history and lore, memory and myth, as Ralph Ellison evoked in his posthumous novel, Juneteenth — we remember the shining promise of emancipation, along with the bloody path America took by delaying it and deferring fulfillment of those simple, un-anticipating words in Gen. Granger’s original order No. 3: that “This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves.”
My hope this Juneteenth is that we never forget it.”
It is my sincere hope that the root of these events that are causing such mental, physical and emotional distress throughout the country opens the way to a glorious, healthy, and balanced new way of life for all of us and for our children and the generations to come.