Yesterday was Juneteenth. A quick summary for the uninformed people reading this: it is a celebration of when Union Soldiers finally got down to Texas to tell the slaves they were free. This happened two and a half years after the law had passed. The reasons for the delay are unverified, but either way, this day has been celebrated since 1865 (or I guess 1866, since it happened in 1865).
Have you never heard of it? Me either. I just found out about it a few days ago. There is a lot more information about this holiday, and I urge you to catch up on the history our systemically racist school systems never bothered to teach properly.
So much is happening right now. Oppression in the US is still very real, Black people are dying in the streets, and something must be done. I hesitated writing this post for a number of reasons, not the least of which was I didn’t know where I fit in this conversation. But we all have a responsibility to participate. But how do I do that?
I could lament here about all of the ways I have been racist (why the hell hadn’t I ever considered that Black culture might have holidays I didn’t know about? Or even ask questions to try to understand in general?), but this wouldn’t actually do anything. I could do what I imagine a lot of companies are going to try to get away with (something like post a black square for the likes and then act like nothing ever happened), which is not only useless but offensive. Or I could pledge here and now to actually be better.
I don’t have much of an audience at the moment (I think last week I had literally 3 people who looked at this site including myself). However, that doesn’t mean that I can’t use what little platform I have to try to keep Black voices heard.
On Twitter I will continue to retweet as much as possible to help spread their messages. On this blog I’m already planning on adding posts that highlight books and services related to reading and writing – there is no reason why I shouldn’t make every effort to have a balanced mix of heritages, cultures, nationalities, genders, sexualities and other minority groups represented.
Online and in real life I am working on building my confidence in speaking about racial issues, while trying to refrain from making it all about me (which I’m failing at in this post I think) or being condescending/white knighting. I’m also making every effort to actually seek out diverse sources for everything I consume now, from music to books to the stores where I shop. All of this will be done on top of learning as much as I can and accepting any feedback I am given. My comments and contact page are always open, or you can connect with me on Twitter or Instagram (links at the bottom of the page).
I know this post doesn’t “solve racism” and I know that is doesn’t automatically make me a good person. But I hope it is an acceptable start as I learn how to do better and how to be better. I challenge all the privileged people reading this post to figure out their own plan for doing better and to publicly pledge to stick to that plan. There is a lot of work to be done, and we privileged need to do the heavy lifting.