I continue to believe that we will never make real progress in our work for peace and justice in the United States until we, as a nation, confront the historic injustices of (1) the institution of slavery, and (2) the theft of land and cultural genocide of Native Americans.
One part of that is related to reparations to return some of the wealth that was created from the labor of the enslaved, and of the land that was stolen from Native Americans. It is my understanding Native Americans are not interested in receiving monetary reparations, partly because they don’t see land as something someone can own in the first place. And secondly, their relationship with the land defines who they are, and is central to their culture.
More fundamentally we need to dismantle the dominate culture of white superiority the settler colonialists used, and is still used to justify their ongoing massive accumulation of wealth. Today that culture drives global military aggression by the United States. That culture is building concentration camps for migrants and forcibly separating children from their loved ones. That culture is responsible for the school to prison pipeline, for-profit prisons, and greatly disproportionate numbers of people of color incarcerated.
How can we dismantle the dominate culture? Unfortunately I believe we are already seeing, and will increasingly see our political and economic systems overwhelmed by the climate chaos we are already seeing, and that will only become increasingly severe.
Also the activism of young people concerned about climate disasters, such as those in the Sunrise Movement and School Strikes, are rapidly growing in number and power. The direct actions of the Sunrise Movement in Congressional offices has politicians, finally, talking about climate change. These young people also see the connections between our extractive, growth based economy, and social, racial, environmental and economic justice.
“Juneteenth is an opportunity to take stock of where we are on race issues and how far we still have to go.”
One day in late June, 1865, Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas. They carried some historic news: Legal slavery had ended some two and a half years ago with President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. And so some of the last enslaved people left in America were freed.
Note: Racism is an ongoing crisis in the United States. Columbus was the founder of the African Slave Trade when he was a governor in the Carribbean in 1501 and the first slave ship to arrive on US shores was in 1619, 150 years before the United States was founded. The end of slavery was followed by a period of the Black Code, a series of laws passed in the South during Reconstruction to put slavery back in place, Then came the Jim Crow era of segregation, the KKK, and lynching. It was not until the successes of the Civil Rights Movement in court decisions in the 1950s and 60s ending segregation and in the passage of Civil Rights Laws in the 60s that the Jim Crow era came to an end. But that was not the end of racism in the United States. We still see a tremendous lack of investment in black communities where people live with a militarized police presence, regular arrests, underfunded schools, lack of housing and lack of jobs.
Juneteenth is an opportunity to take stock of where we are on race issues and how far we still have to go. Mitch McConnell says reparations are not needed because racism is behind us and points to the election of Barack Obama as proof. But, electing black people to political positions does not mean an end of racist policies. Our friends at Black Agenda Report call this political class of blacks “misleaders” because too often they serve the wealth class of developers at the local level and Wall Street and big business at the national level. We still need policies to correct historic and current injustices.Celebrating Juneteenth With Bold New Ideas by Jessicah Pierre, Otherwords.org, June 19, 2019
Karlos Hill ( professor of African and African-American studies at the University of Oklahoma) says:
“I recently visited the National Memorial for Peace and Justice as well as the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama, both created by the Equal Justice Initiative. And what that memorial and that museum try to do is tie the history of slavery to our present. It tries to help us understand the ways in which we as a country have never really dealt with the trauma or the legacy of slavery, and everything connected to slavery. From the perspective of the memorial and museum, our whole racial past is tied up in and connected to slavery.
One of the things that Bryan Stevenson [founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative] has argued is that in order for us to move beyond slavery, its legacy, and the trauma it brought, we have to acknowledge the ways in which slavery generated massive amounts of wealth for white Americans, and how the narratives used to justify slavery are still connected with narratives that are used to oppress African Americans today. He argues that unless we acknowledge all of this, we are going to continue to face the consequences of this legacy.
Through that memorial, and with things like a national Juneteenth holiday, we can begin to really acknowledge and address all of the issues, past and present, tied up in this issue of slavery.
As a nation, as a collective, we’ve never really acknowledged the 250-plus years of slavery, and the depth of it, and the trauma it caused and the wealth it created. We haven’t really had an accounting for that.”Why celebrating Juneteenth is more important now than ever. It’s time for America to truly grapple with its legacy of slavery,
by P.R. Lockhart Jun 19, 2018, Vox.com
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which opened to the public on April 26, 2018, is the nation’s first memorial dedicated to the legacy of enslaved black people, people terrorized by lynching, African Americans humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow, and people of color burdened with contemporary presumptions of guilt and police violence.https://museumandmemorial.eji.org/memorial