My takeaway of Juneteenth is that over a year after the Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery, rebellious states still had not given the good news to Blacks who were still enslaved.
My grandma used to tell me that a boat arrived on the shores of Texas carrying Black men, who were waving pieces of paper screaming, “We’re free!” and thus the newly freed slaves celebrated.
But as it turned out, we weren’t truly free. After the Civil War, there was reconstruction, then the Jim Crow laws, then the Civil Rights movement.
Then, the pipeline from schools to prisons became the new Jim Crow. Those of us under this new form of slavery are behind bars, questioning the awareness that this federal holiday will bring.
Given that Juneteenth celebrates the emancipation of slaves in rebellious states, will there be discussion of how the ancestors of thousands of those once enslaved are mass incarcerated?
In New Jersey, Black people were 14% of the population but comprised 54% of the prisoners, according to Prison Policy Initiative. In the 2019 U.S. Census, Blacks made up about 13% of the nation but they comprise 42% of the Death Row population according to the Death Penalty Information Center website.
These are just a fraction of the inequalities that we face.
I haven’t even mentioned the wealth gap, the crime rates, the lack of job opportunities and housing etc.
Juneteenth has been officially named a federal holiday. Is this the coming of the Black Messiah, returning to slay the Antichrist (racism) and making sure that the 14 racist White men and those who support their antiquated views have the mark of the beast so that they may be recognized?
Or, is the signing of the bill that made Juneteenth a national holiday like Judah, the disciple of Christ (a way to appease) here to sell the Black Messiah up the river?
A holiday to commemorate the emancipation of slaves in the Deep South is just that, a holiday. It’s just one day. We need 365 days of action!
(Additional reporting by Caitlin Wong)
Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.