No One Is Free Until Everyone IS Free
I celebrate Black joy, Black excellence, Black achievement, Black liberation, Black humanity, Black culture, Black futures, Blackness. I celebrate hard-fought progress. I celebrate miraculous existence. I celebrate hopeful possibility. On Juneteenth and every day.
But no one is free until everyone is free. And 155 years after the last enslaved African Americans in Texas were finally *informed* of their freedom years after the Emancipation Proclamation and end of the civil war, there is tremendous work to be done yet in the pursuit of and ongoing struggle for equity and justice. The declaration of abolition and experiencing true freedom are two very different things. Systemic oppression, institutionalized racism, police violence, mass incarceration, implicit bias, wealth gaps, education disparities, modern segregation, environmental injustice, health crises, lack of access and more discriminatory societal ills and legacies of slavery today mean the promise of freedom and full liberation for Black people in this country remains heretofore unfulfilled, if not outright denied.
Juneteenth is not my day; not one to center white voices, faces, brands or leaders; not one to be appropriated, commodified, tokenized or exploited; not one for performative activism or disingenuous allyship. But perhaps these words will be read by or impact just one non-Black human — and encourage purposeful individual and collective engagement. I’m taking today to listen deeply to Black activists, delve into a history I never learned in school, further my un/education, share findings (on Instagram story and Twitter mostly), reflect on my actions, refocus my efforts, use my voice and platform and privilege and power to amplify Black leaders, organizations, businesses, writers, artists, thinkers, people — and ensure anti-racism is a daily practice, dismantling systems of white supremacy a daily goal, demanding policy reform a daily mandate, standing proudly with and for Black Americans a daily necessity, and holding space for Black friends and strangers a daily action (and gesture of love for those dear to me).
Yes, Juneteenth should be a federal holiday — a recognition of Black history, value, people, importance. But the work demands us to rise on all days. Bending the arc toward inclusive, lasting and equal justice begins within ourselves, in our homes, across our communities, and throughout our spheres, then radiates outwards toward a more equitable society for all. Just as countless brave, courageous, dedicated souls who fought for emancipation did not live to see the day, we must give of our time, energy, bodies, resources and spirit to the causes in which we believe, whether or not we ourselves will ever experience that better world.
Off to continue doing the work…