June is the intersectional month of my dreams. For one, Pride. I still fantasize about the day Facebook will reinstate my pride reacts so that I can emote exclusively in ‘gay woman’. Two: Loving day, where the Supreme Court only 52 years ago decided interracial marriage was legal (Fun Fact: Alabama didn’t legalize interracial marriage until 2000). Three: Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year spent with all of your local coven, by the pool, soaking up the sun and being one with the world. Fourth, and finally: Juneteenth. When I came of the age where the southern education system no longer controlled my access to information and realized what made June 19th, a pertinent turning point in history (no thanks to YOU, Lincoln), June became a beacon for my living intersection. I am gay, I am black, I am marginalized, and oh my god, you can’t stop me.
Still, in casual conversation amongst people I love and respect the most, I know that the word Juneteenth means nothing. Juneteenth has been black America’s Independence day for centuries, and still I say, “I’m not working on Juneteenth” and get met with blank stares and “What’s that?”
We are far from a united race, but Juneteenth is the day that began the long, unfinished road to healing, blending and mending of which to this day, we still walk.
June 19th, 1865 is the day that General Granger arrived in Texas, USA to enforce his order with troops behind him. While slaves had been freed prior to this, there was no enforcement. There are theories that Texas just didn’t know, and theories that they just didn’t care; however, they had to give up the ghost. While Granger did explicitly suggest the slaves remain “employed” under their slave masters and retain income, it should come as no surprise that upon word, they scattered.
I think of this scattering as deeper than physically; as a community, we could not be further from each other some days. You wanna see something scary? Say Bill Cosby three times in the mirror. Read the comment section of The Shade Room under R.Kelly videos. Through misogynoir, colorism, and internalized racism, we struggle daily maintaining our culture and our communities. I have no cognitive idea of what our values are across household to household. We don’t even all know that there’s a black national anthem. We are far from a united race, but Juneteenth is the day that began the long, unfinished road to healing, blending and mending of which to this day, we still walk.
I know that we are sick of hurting; I know we are bored of reiterating what free should mean.
This week, the Museum of Fine Arts, who hosts a Juneteenth celebration every year, recently came under fire when black students were harassed and degraded by patrons. The patronage of MFA is known to be 78% white, and headlines everywhere have been sensational. Article after article questions whether or not there will be a turnout this year at all; regardless of the spin, they aren’t wrong for questioning. I know that we are sick of hurting; I know we are bored of reiterating what free should mean. Beyond reparations, mules and forty acres, common decency would suffice. This to say, what a stage to set. I can’t imagine a stronger, louder and prouder Juneteenth than in the face of those since banned patrons.
I’ll be celebrating my day off singing the songs my grandma sang while she raised the blood pressure of the entire household with a single piece of fried chicken, sharing the blackest of black twitter memes, and relishing in what progress has been made. My family is proof of this, as we sit on polar opposite ends of the color spectrum and our son lies in the middle. I’m so grateful to be a product of my ancestry and look forward to honoring them all Wednesday.
Happy Pride, Loving Day, Summer Solstice, and Juneteenth.
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