The Comments by Conservatives That Almost Ruined My Juneteenth
As Inigo Montoya said, "I don't think that word means what you think it does . . ."
I'm angry today over the absolute onslaught of incredibly ignorant comments I have read across the internet regarding Juneteenth. Conservatives hate being branded with "R for Racist" but then some turn around and say some of the most outlandish things I've seen online. I addressed this tendency to spew “ignorance stew” a few years ago in a podcast I called "Stuff White Conservatives Say" about the hyphen in our name (you should listen to it).
Here is just a sampling of some of the remarks I've seen today:
These are just a few comments shared by the "intellectual giants" of the internet.
Day in and day out, on our AACONS social media — my home, in essence — people come in, make themselves comfy, and proceed to argue with us when we share cultural information, and tell us what we "should" and "should not" think, do, or say. Think of the optics of that: a white person telling Black people their own history, or to "get over it," and yet bristling at the very hint that their comments could be construed as racist at worst, insensitive at best.
If I came to your house, pulled out your grandmother's cookbook and gave you "helpful" information, or suggestions about her recipes, or flat out told you she was wrong and "my family doesn't do it that way," you might be insulted, or at least a little protective of your family history.
People celebrate St. Patrick's Day (my grandmother's grandmother on my mom's side was from Ireland). It’s okay to be an Irish hyphen American on that day. No one asks "but were you born in Ireland?" Yet, we are constantly questioned about our name. Again, listen to the podcast about it.
The Holocaust was an atrocity. Everyone knows that. We teach it in schools; we discuss it as such. Mention the word "slavery" and some people lose their minds.
Slavery was also an atrocity. Slavery actually did happen. It was an evil. I'm not here to bash anyone over the head about it. I acknowledge that as fact. Yet, we have been told, on our own FB page to "get over it," and "my, some good things came out of slavery, like the food and the hymns." Yes. Someone actually said that (and got comment "likes").
I'm firmly against reparations. I know that you were not personally there when my ancestors were held as slaves (or when, on the white side of my family, they held slaves). Nor was I.
We conservatives decry -- and rightly so -- the tearing down of monuments and landmarks. We decry -- and rightly so -- this "victimology" inherent in CRT and DEI. We decry -- and rightly so -- the "re-segregation" some Black students perpetuate with Blacks-only dorms and graduation ceremonies.
And yet, the comments I saw today show that many folks are at odds with the beliefs they espouse. Some do not want to be educated. Some say they are not racist yet don't see the absolute tone-deafness of telling a Black person to "get over it," "we gave you MLK Day" or express outrage with us at the pride movement's co-opting of the term "Underground Railroad" to move LGBTQIA+ individuals out of Texas where laws are unfavorable to their indoctrination efforts.
I have lived almost six decades on this planet. Even raised by a white mother, I have always known about Juneteenth. There was always a big community celebration and every Black community I know of across this nation still does, as we have from that very first celebration in Galveston in 1865.
Listen up: This is the true history of Juneteenth and why it absolutely is a time of joy and celebration:
Slavery was abolished by the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Word did not reach the slaves in Galveston, TX, until two years later. On June 19, 1865, slaves in Texas heard the joyous news that they were free.
That's the Reader's Digest version.
For a country that loves freedom, I don't understand why this celebration of freedom is problematic. No one is advocating we replace Independence Day with Juneteenth. No one is advocating we replace the American flag with the symbol for Juneteenth celebrations.
Ditto with "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing." So what if it's called "the Black National Anthem?" That description was given to the song during a time when our nation was segregated. I learned this song back in elementary school. Like Juneteenth, it is not something new. Some are not privvy to every detail of Black culture. Learn something new and keep uninformed comments to yourself. Read a book. Ask someone. Do not be a living demonstration of the maxim attributed to Mark Twain, "It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."
So celebrate with us today or harken back to the teaching of your childhood: "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" especially around racial issues clearly not understood (prefaced by all the comments starting with "I don't get why…") as has been borne out by all the inaccurate, insensitive, and ignorant comments I saw online today and the absolute refusal to hear any pushback.
For those who made such comments today: if you don't want to be thought a racist, don't act or talk like one.
To everyone else I say, “Happy Juneteenth!”
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