To Us, Juneteenth Is A Celebration; To Our Ancestors, It Was Relief

I will never forgive this country’s suppression of black bodies, black souls and black minds.

Never.

Every year, Juneteenth reminds me to never forgive y’all. To celebrate the end of something so horrific and unimaginable. Is that really a celebration?

Or is it relief?

Relief that black bodies are no longer forced to legally be considered chattel. Relief that black souls are no longer forced to be driven out of the black body so that same black body can pick cotton, efficiently. Relief that the black brain is no longer under the tyranny of white subjugation, all for the purpose of forcing our black brains to be underdeveloped, so that same black brain doesn’t obtain the knowledge it naturally yearns for.

Yeah, maybe relief is the better term. Shit, I don’t know.

I know this, though. I know that America and her suppression caused the very reason why Juneteenth is celebrated. The knowledge of relief didn’t reach all of our ancestors in time.

And I get so fucking upset thinking about it.

I get upset thinking about the numbers. Thinking about how many black bodies, souls and minds died after their freedom was granted, but didn’t know they were free. Countless black bodies, souls and minds died because the relief traveled too slow, either purposely or negligently. It was too slow for the people who deserved to hear it first.

The black bodies, souls and minds who NEEDED to hear it first, heard it last.

And that is American suppression. I know America and her oppression get the headlines. But the horrors of the black experience isn’t just the pressurized water from hoses, graphically ripping apart black flesh. Or a knee, being held on a black throat for over 8 minutes while gravity mercilessly takes over.

Nah.

Suppression is just as tyrannical because it is so methodical. It’s the days and the months and years without access to knowledge; without access to hope; without access to freedom. Juneteenth is the ultimate symbol of that suppression. And when that suppression ended, another form was created in it’s place. And another. And another. But we celebrate the end of that initial suppression because it helps our black bodies, souls and minds continue to march forward, believing that an end to our present day suppression is possible.

And so, we celebrate. And we should.

But for them? Nah.

For them, it was only relief.

Leslie McLemore writes about a lot of different shit for Black With No Chaser. He is also the Takeaway Kang and is the father of two beautiful girls, one of which gets on every nerve he has. The other one is sweet. So, you know, balance. 

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