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What Juneteenth Means to Me
Politics and religion are two subjects I try not to speak on. Mostly because my values in those areas don’t equate with the preconceived assumptions people make based on what I am. I am both fortunate and unfortunate enough to live in a time where being a gay, black, woman of color can benefit or hurt me depending on where I am or who I’m in the company of. This is proven by the fact that every Saturday my wife and I drive by several homes that proudly wave their confederate flag on their property. One such house is less than a stone's throw from my own.
My sexual preference, gender, and race are but a part of me. The parts I did not choose and cannot change. They are God-given and I hope I do right by His choices for me in my life. They are parts I should not have to explain, overcome, or deal with as I live my life. Nor will I. I much rather speak on the free will that God also bestowed upon me. And part of my free will is my choice to be patriotic.
Waving the American flag, saying the pledge of allegiance, are not requirements to being American but I hold them in high esteem. I wave the flag and proudly place my hand over my heart not just on July 4th but whenever necessary to show both honor and respect for a nation and a history that was and still is full of promise. A promise that I am free to pursue my dreams however I define them. But do not take my love for the flag or this country to mean I don’t fully understand the history behind it.
Contrary to what some might think, while America may have declared itself free and independent from England in and around July 4th, 1776 the war and their independence was far from a done deal. There was still much to be done to get to that point and a huge sacrifice that had to be made in order to get all of the colonies on board. That sacrifice was slavery. This is not a blame post on the South, as the North was just as culpable in the slave trade. It’s just a fact. And I’m not saying it’s the only sacrifice that was made when getting all the colonies at the time to agree with declaring independence from England. Of course, it wasn’t. But it was the only one that forced an entire race of humans to remain considered as property.
Remember that when you tell me I should be satisfied with the one Summer holiday this wonderful government of mine has bestowed upon me to honor America. Excuse me? What if we just get rid of Christmas? I mean, we already have a Winter holiday on Thanksgiving and besides Christmas is more for those religious fanatics who believe in Jesus and crap. Come off it. Just stop!
This is not about having a vacation from work, though we have become so desensitized to associating what should mean something to “a day off work” that we’re using it as an argument?! I honestly can’t even. But you know what, whether or not you choose to use the time given to you to think about where we’ve been and where we are on Juneteenth or Independence Day is between you and whatever god you worship. Just like when you choose to have a BBQ on Memorial Day, you know, to enjoy that long weekend you look forward to every year? So, just sit back and enjoy the extra day off work you’ve been given, cause I guarantee in a few years everyone who's got something to say about it now will be planning their three-day Summer vacations.
As for me? Well, I think our former First Lady said it best, standing beside her husband, about to fundamentally transform American history in a way we all never thought possible: “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country.”