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Reflections on Juneteenth

We all know the definition of slavery: defines it as the condition of being enslaved, held, or owned as human chattel or property. The 13th amendment to our constitution ended the practice in America in 1865.

But the fourth definition of slavery on defines the practice as “severe toil; drudgery.”

It’s that definition that we still stumble over as a nation. The drudgery of having to tell black children how to behave in certain situations. Toiling to explain why some skin colors open doors that others do not. The hard work of living in a country where some still don’t know that the civil war is over and the 13th Amendment exists. 

Ask Keenan Anderson who died after being tased by police in Los Angeles in 2023 or Henry Truman, who was shot to death by a policeman in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1870.  Ask why only 59 of the current 535 voting members of  the U. S. Congress is black.  Ask why only 10.7% of the 681 companies in a study by Crist|Kolder Associates had CEOs of color.

That’s 150 years after slavery ended by law in this country, because even though laws can change quickly, attitudes and prejudices don’t. 

We have much work to do. 

Still, we have had the first black President and currently we have the first black Vice-President and first black female Supreme Court Justice, and that is a good step forward.  Also, President Biden has put more Black women on the appeals courts bench than all other presidents combined. But until every young black girl can realize the same goals and dreams of every young white boy, we have much work to do. 

True, slavery is outlawed and we should celebrate that.  But there are many ways to shackle someone:  by prejudice, by fear, by ignorance.  I live in an area where the high school used to be named Robert E. Lee.  A neighborhood a mile or so away named its streets after civil war generals, and the “n-word” still gets cackles from some.  All are reminders of a time when the white race thought itself superior.  And those thoughts still bubble near the surface of our society. 

The Supreme Court is about to rule on the future of Affirmative Action, something that has helped to level the playing field since 1960 by making college a little more available for everyone.  States across the country have made voting in minority districts more difficult.  White governors in predominately white states are once again catering to white voters by banning diversity, black history in the classroom, and books that discuss black culture.

We have much work to do. 

Still, we just observed the first national holiday honoring Juneteenth, the day that commemorates the emancipation of African Americans in the U.S.

Now it’s time to take great strides towards equality for all, don’t you think ?  

Protecting blind justice starts in November by electing Virginia candidates that ensure justice for all, based on laws and the constitution - not loyalty and power.  Even if Washington politicians go awry, we can keep sanity in the Virginia General Assembly by voting for candidates that protect our rights and uphold the constitution - and all 27 of its amendments. 


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