For Your Edification* is a weekly Slice of Culture series where staff writer Ed Daniel take topics — Hudson County or national news related — and provide social commentary.
Happy Juneteenth Everyone!
On June 17th, President Joe Biden established Juneteenth as a Federal holiday.
The holiday, also known as Freedom Day, is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.
On June 19, 1865 it was announced to Galveston, Texas that the Civil War had ended and because of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln, nearly two and a half years earlier, all slaves were legally free.
It goes without saying that this celebration becoming a federal holiday is long overdue.
It’s obvious that the celebration of the eradication of this country’s original sin should have been recognized long ago, and also should not have taken a summer of racial reckoning to push it forward.
The question — and quite honestly the fear — among the Black community is will this be another example of performative politics by the Federal government to appease Black citizens? Instead of creating actual tangible policies that address the inequities of everyday Black americans?
Given the history of this country, I am afraid the answer is the former.
Now it is great that Juneteenth is being recognized and celebrated, I am going to personally enjoy the day off from work in the future, and I also love a good reason to have a barbecue.
But as stated before, I get the feeling that those officials in the Biden administration are going to try to pass this new holiday off as an accomplishment in racial policy rather than create actual policies.
Over the last year, we have been bombarded with performative politics.
This time last year, top U.S. Democrats including Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer were cringely wearing Gahanian Kente Cloth, what the hell was that?
Gahanian Kente Cloth was the material given to them by the Congressional Black Caucus to show support for Geroge Floyd Justice and Policing Act Bill, which has yet to be voted upon in the Senate.
We also saw in D.C the painting of the words “Black Lives Matter” in large block yellow letters across 16th street, which leads to Lafayette Square and the White House. The section street was renamed ‘Black Lives Matter Plaza in honor of the demonstrators during the Geroge Floyd protests last summer.
The mural is nice, but it seems that it has not provided the proper motivation that it intended.
The Democratic party has yet to address the voting suppression laws enacted by Republican lawmakers across the country that disproportionately disenfranchise Black voters. Joe Biden has not been motivated to end the student debt with his ability of Executive order.
Ending the crisis would help cut into the racial wealth gap especially since Black women carry the highest student loan debt of any racial or ethnic group. These are only some of the issues that have yet to be addressed, but were promised to be remedied by politicians.
The political pandering with toothless action to back it is becoming annoyingly transparent.
It goes without saying Juneteenth does not address core issues of race relations and education in the US.
It has been a state holiday in Texas since 1980, that’s over 40 years. The same state that just banned the teaching of critical race theory in public schools K-12.
Let’s break this down.
Texas chose to celebrate the ending of a horrific era and policy in American history, but they also want to eliminate the teaching and the examination of the overall ramifications the era of slavery created in the U.S. and how it affects us to this day.
Make it make sense!!
If that is not proof that celebrating Juneteenth as a holiday will not bring a racial awakening in this country then I don’t know what will.
Now I’m not knocking Jueneteenth as a holiday.
As far as holidays go, it definitely deserves to be commemorated. But I would argue the energy the Black community should have around this recognition. It should not be “Yay we finally are recognized!” it should be “Yeah, that’s cool, what else are you going to do?”
What actual tangible steps are our leaders going to take to help the lives of Black citizens whose votes they covet so much? And we know they’re coveted because one party tries to take the vote away while the other panders embarrassingly to get it.
It’s important that we can appreciate the recognition of the day and celebrate it, but also at the same time know that we want actual effective positive policies to be made.
But until that day comes, please have a fun and safe Juneteenth weekend. I know I will.