The NEWS for you is: EMPOWERMENT.
Here’s your EMPOWERMENT LESSON for the week of JUNETEENTH:
Ceremony WITHOUT Substance
For as long as I can remember, there has been a Juneteenth celebration here in Shreveport. As Louisiana is one of the 41 states to honor the “official” abolition of slavery, it makes sense that people here would want to celebrate that.
I personally don’t have an issue with the celebration itself; as far as African American history goes, I believe that Juneteenth has a major place in the overall discussion, and should not be overlooked because people “don’t like to be reminded of the way things used to be”, and would rather focus on “the way things are, now” (whatever that means).
My problem is the fact that some people have used this celebration as yet another excuse to party, eating and drinking to excess, with the essence of why Freedom Day (another name for Juneteenth) exists taking on ancillary status.
Allow me to explain.
When I was a child, my mother would take me to the “Let the Good Times Roll Festival” every year, and I ABSOLUTELY HATED IT. Every year, I saw nothing but Negroes having a good time: There was plenty to eat, plenty to drink, and lots of live music, yet NO mention whatsoever of the reason the festival was being held in the first place.
I learned later that Good Times Roll used to be called the Juneteenth Celebration once upon a time, but when the assimilationist Negroes got it into their heads that if they wanted more Caucasian participants, the history needed to be taken out of it, and “it needed to be made more palatable” for the aforementioned white folk, we ended up with THIS cluster****.
It was at that point I realized what my problem was; I hated that this important moment in our history had been denigrated into being nothing more than an excuse for people to congregate and behave foolishly, having the UNMITIGATED GALL to call it a “celebration” honoring the emancipation of our Ancestors.
I wanted no part of it, and I deeply resented being forced to participate in it.
In the years I was forced to attend “The Great, Big, Weekend Long Party”, not once did I EVER hear anyone explain the significance of the date. That I even somehow discovered “Juneteenth” was June 19th, considering the ignorance and foolishness surrounding it, is an irony that is certainly NOT lost on me.
- A public reading of the Emancipation Proclamation
- African American families retracing their ancestry to the ancestors who were held in bondage for centuries, exchanging artifacts, debunking family myths, and stressing responsibility and striving to be the best you can be
- Participants singing traditional songs, such as “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”, and “Lift Every Voice and Sing”
- And, then comes the food, fun, and frolic
But, this is what ACTUALLY DOES HAPPEN, at least here:
- Party like it’s 1999
- Party like it’s 1999
- Party like it’s 1999 – again
Before you begin accusing me of being a Puritanical prude who doesn’t want people to enjoy themselves – EVER – let me stop you, right now.
This isn’t about not wanting people to have a good time. This isn’t about depriving people of their right to celebrate occasions they feel deserve celebrating.
I have no problem with celebrations, in principle.
My problem is the way this particular event is being celebrated. There is no talk of the historical significance of this day, and ZERO discussion of the commitment that we as a community should make – no, MUST MAKE – to honor our Ancestors’ long suffering sacrifice.
A friend of mine told me that earlier this morning, one of her work associates (a Caucasian) told her “Happy Juneteenth”.
You gotta love the irony of THAT.
I’m not here to discuss whether or not it was appropriate for her co-worker to have done that; what I’m making note of is that even The White Woman had some perspective on this day, yet all Black folk here did this past weekend was party like it was…well, you know.
That’s probably why – to this day – whenever the Good Times Roll Festival comes around, I find something else to do during that weekend.
I’ve grown sick, tired, and beyond disgusted with important events in our history being trivialized so as to give us a reason to shake our asses, when what we should be doing is focusing on how best to repay the debt we owe.
Make no mistake about it: We DO owe a debt, and whether we want to cop to it or not, it is a debt that MUST be paid.
Our Ancestors DID NOT survive the most horrific of all human experiences (at once) just so some of you Negroes could get your party on.
Shame on you. SHAME. ON. YOU.
*Info courtesy of Wikipedia.