Happy Juneteenth — Know Your History
How many of you Covid19-appointed homeschool teachers saw the #TulsaMassacre or #Juneteenth in the curricula? Yes, everyone is writing about it, now, but many of us had no idea that these moments were part of American history. Oklahoma officials just decided to teach that brutal part of American history in its schools, starting THIS year. Will other school districts make a similar commitment? Have you asked?
A recent NBC News story reported on the “whitewashing” of American history. These are just two important moments of American history that have been, intentionally, left out of our education systems. So, they won’t appear on ACT, SAT, GRE or any other exams that determine our intelligence.
A Missouri resident, Kennedy Mitchum saw a need to correct how the globally respected dictionary, Merriam-Webster, defined racism. So, she sent a letter to the company, challenging them to fix it — and, they will. Mitchum used her power to better educate the world about a word that is at the root of the latest (and previous) civil rights war.
“In an email to Merriam-Webster, Mitchum wrote: ‘Racism is not only prejudice against a certain race due to the color of a person’s skin, as it states in your dictionary,. It is both prejudice combined with social and institutional power. It is a system of advantage based on skin color.’”
That’s a lesson all by itself and one voice schooled an iconic institution of learning. Imagine that. School boards and parents and AMERICANS should be examining and challenging the #MiseducationOfAmerica. No school books published, from now on, should ignore the horrors of America’s past, while glorifying the good (whitewashing). Good teachers and institutions don’t hide truth.
Spanish-born philosopher, Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás, aka George Santayana (yankees love shortening folks names) said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Note: Winston Churchill, nuanced Santayana’s words and has held full credit in history books for that phrase ever since. Plagiarism, like racial injustice isn’t new either.
We continue to operate with willful ignorance & intentional omission & discrimination by race, religion, gender or identity — accurate history tells us that. We fail, miserably, at knowing our own history. So, we continue to fail at achieving our collective independence. As esteemed author & educator, Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. wrote in a piece published in The New Yorker, titled, “The History that James Baldwin Wanted America to See”, “True freedom, for all Americans, requires that we all tell a better story, a true story, about how we arrived here.” All that happened on this land IS American History. It demands to be told.
People continue to fight for the key promises within the Pledge of Allegiance — Liberty and Justice for all. We need ALL allies on deck — from across the pond and from sea to shining sea — to achieve them. The House of Representatives has pushed forward hundreds of bills to create a more just nation, in recent years. They have landed in the Senate, where the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, refuses to act. The Justice in Policing Act of 2020 could meet the same fate if Americans who are marching and rallying on America’s streets forget that they, too, have a voice, like Kennedy Mitchum. KEEP MARCHING. And, we should all be calling our elected officials and demanding that we change the direction of this nation, so it lives up to what those dreamt of on the first Juneteenth. Then, the second Juneteenth. And, third...
We should make sure we’re counted in the census and DEMAND that our vote in November is accurately counted. The global convulsion for justice is in response to a history that we keep forgetting-and repeating. The forgetfulness and failures to act leads to the same unrest (see the 1968 Kerner Commission Report as an example). If we want change, WE need to make it happen. Call Congress and tell them 202–224–3121. (NOTE: That was a necessary digression because we NEED to take ACTION NOW.)
Days of Independence
In 1865, Juneteenth was a day of the beginning of Black freedom & liberation in America. Many nations that enslaved Africans commemorate Emancipation Day across the calendar, based upon when the enslaved were freed. The world knows know that July 4th is a big day for America. Celebrating America’s independence is prominent in our history books, media, massive, pollution-filled firework sales and various sales. For all of these celebratory anniversaries, often, we forget that freedom and independence is continuous work. It cannot be taken for granted. It can be stolen away by war, legislation or leaders, if we don’t uphold the principles and aspirations that made liberation possible.
Many reading this, and celebrating “independence” however you define it, have no clue that the United Nations declared 2015–2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent. It’s an important time for the world to recognize the invaluable contributions of a people borne of the Fertile Crescent. It’s a part of all our roots. And, across the globe, those of darker complexions (or one drop 🩸 ) have endured insurmountable odds to still shine. It’s been said that unless all of us are free, none of us are free. Until those in power recognize that liberty and justice for all doesn’t have an asterisk, many will continue to expend energies to get us all emancipated. That’s energy that could be used for peace. The lives lost could have saved other lives. Those killed could have held the key to cures we don’t know we need-yet. What we don’t know is killing us. Since 1619, Africans in America have been fighting for equity. Those some won’t embrace, because of their Blackness, could be the ones who could save all of us.
We are still not all free, so, we all must keep working towards freedom for ALL of us.
Happy Juneteenth ! Let new history discoveries inspire you to learn — and SEEK TO UNDERSTAND — all of our history. Remember that Black history is American history, too. Open some books, google, talk about what you learn. Choose your resources carefully, though. Everybody isn’t committed to truth — no matter their job title.
I dare you to use the rest of this decade — and your life — to learn more about all of us. Juneteenth is just part of it. When we know more about us, we will be better to all of us. Use your voice to make sure history is taught accurately. If history is missing or whitewashed, tell somebody. Protest about it, if you have to — it’s the American way.