Juneteenth: "Emancipation is a marker of progress for white Americans, not black ones."

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/06/19/juneteenth-emancipation-is.html



“But the knife is, like, 150 years old!!!”


More like 401+:


Of course freedom is greeted by gratitude. The trouble is that the white people think it ought to be gratitude towards us.

Free at last, free at least! Thank god almighty we are free at last!

If any human beings deserve gratitude for the freedom we enjoy today, those people are disproportionately the oppressed who fought back. It’s far more true that white people are free today because black people fought for freedom for everyone than it is that black people are free today because white people allowed that to happen.


I am coming to think of Juneteenth in a similar way to August 6. It’s not a day to celebrate, but to take notice.

For YOU.


I have a (white) friend who posted, “Happy Juneteenth, Everybody!”. And that seemed kinda tone deaf to me. What do you think?

I think it’s a good thing that your White friend even knows what Juneteenth is.

(For Black folks in the US, it definitely IS a day to celebrate.)


As a white person I know one thing for sure about Juneteenth - it’s the time to shut the fuck up and listen.


The end of slavery is like the bombing of Hiroshima?


It’s like Bolivian independence day?


Chattel slavery ended. And that merits celebration just as V-J day.

But the end of chattel slavery did not result in freedom. There’s 155 years of resentment, where maybe people weren’t owned outright, but they could still be abused. I think of that accumulated abuse in a similar way to how I think of the atom bombs dropped on Japan. A huge, evil mistake with a lot of long term fallout.

Parades and barbecues and marches are of course appropriate as well, that should go without saying. Winners and losers, background and foreground… If all white people see is celebrating the end of slavery, it makes it easier to convince ourselves that the struggle is over.

Thinking it through, I guess it’s a mistake to compare 19 June with 6 August… it compares better to 15 August.

Maybe the date I’m really more interested in, is May 25th.

IMHO, Juneteenth would be an excellent time for white people to shut the fuck up, keep their immaterial opinions to themselves and actually listen to what Black people tell us about why it is important to them. It is not our holiday. It never was. And if the Black community says it is a day to celebrate, we sure as hell have no place saying otherwise. We have issues whenever anything is not about us. We truly need to get over ourselves.



Mod note: opinions are welcome here, and I recommend folks consider the contents, timing, and choice of opinions when deciding whether or not to give them (or the poster) and current or future weight.

Non-mod-note: before moving to the US I knew very little about the specifics of US slavery, or this holiday, but I did take the time to learn and try to understand what I could. That made the holiday about listening, reflecting, and learning for me.

To that end, Vox put out what I found to be an excellent primer on the original of the holiday for unaware folks like myself:





This is not very surprising. The Republican party had an abolitionist wing, for sure, but the vast majority were interested in preserving the union and not letting unfree labor compete with free labor (the free soilers) not in ending the institution of slavery. And the majority in actual political power did not support the abolition of slavery, but in fact sought to ensure it’s continued existence, despite their constituents holding a variety of positions against slavery. They sought to ensure it’s continuation, not to seek its slow dissolve over time.

We should couple this with the fact that abolitionists were considered a radical fringe at the time, and on top of that, not all whites who wished to see the institution ended supported racial equality. It all adds up to the fact that the vast majority of whites could not be trusted to support the Black Freedom struggle for most of American history. :woman_shrugging:

This is a great find and I hope it can be digtized sooner rather than later…


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