Monday, June 20, 2022

Uniquely American?


On the Federal observance of Juneteenth, I have a few thoughts. Yesterday I saw a social media post which began: 

Juneteenth is a uniquely American holiday…

And why is that, do you suppose? Because it is uniquely American to build an entire country on the labor of the enslaved? We should be deeply troubled as white people to reckon with the concept that Juneteenth is a uniquely American holiday. 

Something worth celebrating would be if a Juneteenth had never been needed. That’s not the path that colonizers chose. Imagine all the different choices and all the different attitudes that would have been necessary for that to be so.

I thought a lot about this quote yesterday:

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. – George Santayana, The Life of Reason, 1905. 

We are facing an angry wave of anti-history sentiment right now in this country. People don’t want to remember the past or learn things about the past that they did not know. They don’t want to acknowledge that the history of the oppressed has been suppressed. Why? They don’t want to feel uncomfortable. They don’t want their children to feel uncomfortable.

If we believe in Democracy we must fight this. If we support public education we must fight this. We cannot learn and grow and work for a better future if we don’t learn and reckon with the truth of our history. 

People who want to control how you remember the past are planning to take away your power in the future. 

That’s enough of my voice today. Take a minute to read Local Howard County Juneteenth Stories researched by HCLTR and their recent intern, Lindsey Bloom. 

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