Hey Family! Happy Juneteenth! Got a bonus for you this week. Enjoy and share.
Juneteenth feels more like a time of reflection than a celebration for me. I cannot imagine what it was like to have realized that you were physically free after being in bondage from birth and I don’t want to know. Just the idea that someone decided that their need for free for skilled labor and profit margins was more important than the lives of their workers’ rights makes me angry.
I remember the first time that I heard the history about Juneteenth and how the slaves in Texas learned that they were free two years after the rest of the nation. Two years more of FREE slave labor to harvest crops and other things for people who knew the truth. Two years more of beatings and conditioning for a thing that no longer existed. Two more years of local leaders, not national leaders conspiring to keep the status quo for the wealthy. Two more years that new children were born into a system that told them that they were less than human and not worth the dignity of being considered anything more than property for someone else’s use. Two more years.
In two years a woman could have been pregnant 3 times and given birth twice to full-term babies. In two years, an entrepreneur could have built a company from the ground up and receive a profit. In two years, someone could have earned their associate’s degree in accounting, completed a nursing program, or earned their master’s degree. In two years, someone could have led a productive life that added value to themselves and their family that sets them up for life. Two years.
Juneteenth 2020 means so much more to me this year because I realize that in the course of two years my ancestors produced for someone else without knowing that they were free. It was one thing to produce for someone while they were legally in bondage but to continue to produce at the same level and the same pace without compensation and they legally were free… I don’t know. This challenges me to think about how can I produce at a higher level with the knowledge that I am free no matter how this world treats me.
I read in an article on the PBS website that some former slaves didn’t know how to behave after they received the news of their freedom. Some were afraid and continued work as slaves for their masters in the same conditions as they had before learning the news. They still received beatings and harsh treatment despite the change in the laws. I guess the slave masters didn’t know how to behave either regardless of the fact that the law told them that their continued behavior was illegal.
Despite all that was going on, there were freedmen and freedwomen who learned how to be free. In my mind, they must have already felt in their hearts and minds that they were mentally free before they became physically free. Every great thought leader says that the shift starts in your mind and apparently it did for the newly freed people. Making the leap from being a slave to a free man or free woman was easy because they were always free despite their conditions. It also made it easier for their youth to accept it because they saw examples of what it means to live free even before they actually were free. They became what those who came before them had dreamt about. Free.
This Juneteenth I am challenging you to become more of who you were created to be. You get to define that for yourself and no one else. If you don’t have an example of what living free looks like in your life, find one. Surround yourself with people who want more than to be comfortable with the lifestyle that you have been living. Staying a slave to your past because you are afraid of your next is not an option especially since you have been free all along.
Get up and make your ancestors proud. You were born free! Let’s go! Peace!