Somewhere between Juneteenth and July 4th | Opinion | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Somewhere between Juneteenth and July 4th

CP Photo Illustration: Abbie Adams
On Juneteenth 2020, one of my most beloved friends, who happens to be white, sent me a link to a petition: Make June 19th a Federal Holiday.

I think she was sure I would be excited about this because: 1. Juneteenth is Freedom Day, a day to acknowledge the “end of slavery” in the United States. 2. It is my birthday. 3. Having African-American history and heritage intentionally central in the celebration and conversation of Americanness is very much my jam.

But when I saw the message my response was: Oh no, not another Juneteenth thing! I had received several first-ever Juneteenth emails from various U.S. corporations that morning. I said out loud to no one, “No I don’t wanna, I am not signing that thing. Please leave Juneteenth alone, it is already a National holiday (to Black America) and I don’t want the day to end up all flat and lifeless like Martin Luther King Jr. Day.”

I don’t know if this is my final answer but somewhere between Juneteenth and July 4th, 2020. We are trying to decide and declare what Freedom looks like. Recognize and dismantle the anti-Black racism that is as American as whatever pie, cherry or apple? I can never remember which, I do not like pie.

And we’re trying to do it all faster than a viral TikTok video repeats on your timeline.

Between Juneteenth. To my Black family:

Ssadksljhfytlbnallf?!!??!! Fam, I do not know. I just do not know. We had a hint of what would happen with the “Black Squares” right? But in an effort not to center whiteness and what whiteness is doing today. I just have to ask you, How are you doing? The wonderful writer and journalist Jourdan Hick’s posted a Jacquelyn Ogorchukwu quote on Instagram recently:

“We are so often expected to take on the role of dismantling racism that we forget that the main job of a survivor of abuse it to heal.”

I had to pause. I have to pause. We have to pause. And heal. Freedom and liberation is healing. That is why love is a verb and part of the revolution it is central to this, so heal. Work and heal.

And it made me wonder about how much of our role is to dismantle racism vs healing and love within our Black Family, capital B and F?

Between Juneteenth and July 4th:

To my non-Black People of Global Majority fam. How are you feeling? I see many of you in solidarity and with big love, yes, we need us all. I know your family’s anti-Blackness was taught as a way to become American. I know for many of you anti-Blackness is part of the heritage you bring from various nations in America and from around the world. But you are seeing how proximity to whiteness won’t offer you freedom. We need unity now more than ever.

Before July 4th. To my white family:

Well we are all one human family, right? Okay. Sdsjadskjfnsjhabfhasdb?!? I mean how does it feel, what you are thinking? What’s up? I see some of you are doing a lot of back-patting of oneself, which is hard to watch. Dangerous actually because you have more work than you realize. If you’re so convinced you’re woke, you won’t know where your vision is blocked or blurred.

And one hopes that the newly purchased books will not just become Black Lives Matter coffee table displays. But I want us to center our needs, our joy, our freedoms, our liberation, and our love. We are one of the key bellwethers of true justice in this world, but we need to get there whole.

Imagine looking onto the Golden Triangle from the Confluence of the Ohio, Monongahela, Allegheny, and not see the sea of sameness.

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To those who are not self-identified allies but in the trench with accomplices who are (cautiously) optimistically welcoming new members to anti-racist work. How are you doing out there? Does it feel different? Are you ready for what is next? What is next?

Please remember to make space where you can be called in or called out, without defense. And yes you will probably, get your feelings hurt, if it is working. The whole dismantling racism thing. That thing that may have gotten you your:

Beautiful house | Beautiful wife/husband/partner/partners/dog/cat | Beautiful job | Salary ...

Take a moment to consider this: How does your love, your joy, your livability for the city of Pittsburgh come at the expense of Black, Brown, LGBTQIA+, Disabled people who are made to feel “other than” not a “real Pittsburgher” not “the average Pittsburgh” — so your very narrow scope and slice of the Pittsburgh pie world can be lifted up in this Golden Triangle as the crown.

Imagine looking onto the Golden Triangle from the Confluence of the Ohio, Monongahela, Allegheny, and not see the sea of sameness. But rivers of multicultural beauty that reflect the reality of our past, present, and future.

This is part of the healing work, the revolution work, the Black Lives Matter, intersectional justice work that must happen from Juneteenth to July 4th and all the other 363 days a year.

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