Yes. Juneteenth is bullshit. “Blacks” have always been free …

A few days ago, while visiting LinkedIn, I came across a post where the writer took issue with the commercialization of Juneteenth, the commemoration of when Major General Gordon Granger announced to slaves in Galveston, Texas that pursuant to an executive order issued over two years earlier that they were free from physical bondage.

But what should black Americans have expected? The modus operandi is if you can attach a credit card to a holiday and incentivize a transaction with catchy ads, it is a commercial winner. No thought was given by black Americans to the politicization of an event that boils down to the timing of 19th century communications during war time.

The narrative at the core of this holiday is a white American army officer telling slaves of African descent that they were “free.” This narrative continues today as most blatantly expressed by America’s current president, Joe Biden. 

Mr Biden declared the federal holiday on 19 June 2021, his latest foray into “skin politics.”  You may remember during his 2020 presidential campaign his declaration that if blacks did not vote for him, “you ain’t black.” The statement was designed to get blacks to behave accordingly; to secure votes for Mr Biden by playing the low-level political binary game of choosing the lesser evil.  Now Mr Biden has completed a one-two punch.  Not only do I define your blackness, but I am also reminding you of who gets to declare your freedom.

The foundation of skin politics goes way back to the slave trade where members of African tribes were captured and traded between African sellers and European brokers.  To make captured Africans optimal slaves, their culture and self-identity was extracted from their being.  Physical and psychological methods were used to transform someone with a unique name, lineage, and value system into a walking nothingness; transformed into “black.”

Mr Biden is not naïve.  He knows just enough political psychology to continue the stripping and only the least self-aware “blacks” believe that his address on racial issues is altruistic.

The irony is that had the response in June 1865 been, “You proceed from a false premise General Granger. We’ve always been free, but thanks for your acknowledgment”, then this holiday would not exist in the first place and we would be spared the expected commercial response.

Today, blacks get a second chance. More blacks are becoming self-aware, seeing themselves as free beings and thinkers.  Juneteenth to Biden and other white liberals is another one of those “See what we’ve done for you people” tropes.  The underlying message of the gesture is, “We created you.  We define you.” 

Today, more “blacks” are saying, we’ve always been free.

Alton Drew

21 June 2022

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