Friday, June 19, 2020

Liberation Narratives: Juneteenth

Before today, Juneteenth may have been a holiday that flew under the radar of most of us.  It may seem fairly obscure, to celebrate a day when the last U.S. slaves heard that they were emancipated (June 19, 1865).  Why not celebrate the day that the Emancipation Proclamation was signed (Jan. 1, 1863)?  Why not some other day?

Or maybe we should have lots of days to celebrate freedom.  If so, yesterday might become one of them--when I saw the news of the Supreme Court's DACA decision come across my Twitter feed, I doublechecked with various news sources, just to be sure.  I couldn't believe it would be true.

Now I realize that it's not a final protection.  I realize that the Supreme Court didn't say that DACA recipients can stay forever; it didn't grant them citizenship.  The ruling said that the Trump administration didn't approach the case properly.  As Linda Holmes tweeted:  "Another big day for Administrative Law, aka That Class That Sounds Very Boring But Moves The Earth."

But this week has been a great week for Supreme Court decisions, for those of us who want to see more protections for people who have been in the margins, for people who have been oppressed.  And now, another chance to celebrate:  Juneteenth today!

Of course, the issues of slavery haven't gone away.  In many ways, we have more slavery now than we did during the pre-Civil War time.  I think of sex trafficking when I say that, and all sorts of people working in agricultural industries.

And of course, there are all the institutions which enslave us, prisons who hold so many, some of them legally and some of them held illegally.  And so many addictions hold us in shackles. 

If I think about patterns of thought, I could quickly make the assertion that all of us are held in some sort of slavery.

So on this Juneteenth, let us think about the captives who need our help to be set free.  Let us also think about all the captivity narratives that hold us enslaved.  Let us embrace liberation narratives.  Let us envision what life would look like if all were truly free.

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