Since this is my first entry, I thought it would be a capital idea to comment on something that’s in the news and personalise it for a touch of flair.
So, to start with, I have an confession to make – I didn’t know what the Juneteenth celebration was until a few months ago. Before you dismiss me as just another “uninformed individual” who is “part of the problem”, there’s a simple reason for this – I’m an immigrant. That’s right… I’m foreign-born and raised. So I could be forgiven for not being au courant on American history and culture.
But here’s the interesting part… How I came across the information on Juneteenth was by accident. I saw it on a episode of ‘Black-ish’. I’ll leave it to you, the reader, to decide on whether that’s a good or bad thing. Granted, this was a whimsical explanation, but it was enough for me to understand it’s importance to the African-American community. On the up-side, it provided the motivation to do some further reading on the topic.
In the past couple of the weeks, media outlets covered both the history and significance of the celebration, culminating in extensive reporting on Friday on the multiple events that were held to mark the day. Being an avid watcher of the news, I can say with some certainty that it was the first time this has happened; prior to this, I don’t recall ever seeing a single news segment that discussed it. The question as to why is a poignant one, especially given the current social climate in the U.S.
Ironically, the president deserves some of the credit. It was his decision to hold a rally on that day, and in the city of Tulsa (which also resonates with the African-American community owing to the massacre of 1921), that drew nationwide attention and condemnation. While he did reschedule it, he also took the opportunity to credit himself for making the day “very famous”.
Whether or not he deserves it isn’t the issue. But the fact is that it has gained mainstream attention. This means the recognition of Juneteeth could possibly transcend the African-American community, eventually putting it on par with other annual holidays that are mainstays of American culture.
The recent discourse on race and race relations, spurred on by the tragic killing of George Floyd, seems to be finally taking place. I am a firm believer that a resolution can only be achieved if “wider America” is committed to learning more about the history and difficulties of African-Americans. The medium or method isn’t necessarily important. And whether it’s from a television serial or from the misguided words of the president – how we learn isn’t as important as what we learn.
After all… it was good enough for this immigrant…