Today marks much more than the 154th anniversary of Union ships entering Texas to inform those still enslaved of their freedom from bondage. It is, and has always been, another duality of celebration and grief for Black Americans. How can we celebrate the end of slavery in the States when we still have not fully addressed the consequences of slavery which still affect its descendants?
The answer is simple: do it anyway.
Black Americans are never short of reasons to grieve, mourn, and seriously contemplate the complex context of our continued existence. But, if we are the hopes and dreams of those who came before, we must honor them by engaging with the most punishable sin of Blackness: true celebration of oneself in the face of varied violence.
Yes, this day is one for contemplation of the freedoms we still do not fully have. It’s a day of mourning for those who cannot celebrate with us. But we do that everyday, and there is only one Juneteenth in a year.
Be kind with yourself today.
Dress your wounds in silk and enjoy the world around you.
Handle your obligations with grace, but be sure you do something out of the ordinary when they’re all done.
Breathe in the freedom that is to breathe, breathe out the fears that take our breath away.
Drink cold water.
Do not move off the sidewalk.
Insist upon existence.
Eat something good.
Bathe your mind, body, and spirit in love and kindness.
Honor the history in your skin.
Or, simply, reclaim one moment in your day and send a prayer of gratefulness to the ancestors for living in spite of it all.
Whatever you can do, be sure you do.