Opening Thoughts – Juneteenth

Non-African-American-having FtB is throwing a Juneteenth celebration of sorts, as befits the year it became a federal holiday in a still quite white supremacist nation.  We’re tryin’, baby.  As people who care about human rights, dignity, and freedom, we have something to celebrate in the emancipation.  Thanks to the people who made that happen, by force of law, force of arms, and force of persuasion, we don’t have to live in a country where our fellow human beings are overtly enslaved.

Unfortunately, there was a loophole in that amendment, allowing the slavery of prison labor.  And worse, even if we closed that loophole, systems have evolved over time to take advantage of a desperate illegal immigrant workforce in slave conditions.  Some “illegal” workers are laboring in the open with a crude bare minimum of protection and pay, but many people who come to this country don’t have that much, and become literal slaves – shackled by the threat of state violence, deportation, etc.  It’s like the hellish bait-and-switch they use in Dubai, working immigrant muslims to death to build their gilded towers, except here it’s people from all over the world doing agricultural work, or house work, or – in the only type fuckers are ostensibly bothered by – sex work.

So while slavery persists on American soil, let Juneteenth be a rallying day for those who would fight it.  Later today I will post about the more celebratory side of things, but for this morning, some bitter coffee for the people.

And one more thought.  Not to undercut my comrades here, but I feel like this isn’t my day to celebrate?  Solemn remembrance, reflection, putting in work for the cause, OK.  But the barbecue?  The jocularity?  That belongs black folks, as it has, as it continues to be regardless of its now official seal.  This isn’t strictly a feeling about appropriation or some other SJW rhetoric.

Think of it this way – emancipation wasn’t the gift of a good thing, it was the removal of (one) bad thing.  Let’s say you spent your whole life under a rock that somebody else put there.  Eventually the guy who put the rock there comes along and helps you roll it aside.  He doesn’t help you stand up – you have to do that for yourself.  Once you are standing there, still crippled from a life on the ground, you might feel like celebrating.  But do you really feel like extending that celebration to the smug guy congratulating himself for eventually changing his mind about the rock?

There are thousands of African Americans with my last name.  I don’t have to look up a genealogy to know that means some of my ancestors were human filth that had to be murdered or forced at gunpoint to practice the most basic of human decency.  It means all those people are surely my brothers and sisters by a father who was one of the very worst types of rapist.

I’m not at all interested in the stories of white people like myself who can make this claim, whether it’s backed up by historical record or not.  Please don’t talk about your slaver ancestors in my comment section.  There’s probably another blog on this network more amenable to that, and that’s fine.  I only bring this up to say that my people did some dirt and profited from it, and I still profit from it every day, whether it’s apparent or not.  As long as that’s the case, I will let other people do the cake and cookies on June 19ths.

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