Juneteenth, both in its foundation and in its process of becoming a national holiday, illuminates much of the U.S.’s enduring legacy today. The delay in declaring the end of slavery, the concerted effort in squashing the truth from the history books, and performative justice in “celebrating” Juneteenth is all indicative of white supremacy.
White supremacy is like the bugs that feed on trees during the spring and summer. It is seen by most only when it is sought out, it is silent until exposed in all of its sinister sway, and yet it permeates everything in its path, wreaking destruction for the betterment of itself and nothing more.
What Juneteenth reveals about white supremacy is that not getting to the root of the issue, and rather providing performative “justice” is its bread and butter. And since the U.S. has yet to feel major ramifications from doing so, it will not stop anytime soon.
White supremacy dictated Juneteenth, so it’s no surprise it decided when it became a holiday
We know about the history of June 19. We know that with coordinated efforts in many parts of the U.S., white slaveowners made it impossible for their slaves to understand they were free. As such is the case with much of U.S. history: make people oblivious and ignorant to the truth, and the status quo will prevail.
Secrecy, silence, and sinister efforts. It would be hard to find a decade in the U.S. short history where these were not found. But it is all in preserving white supremacy that efforts can be understood. Preserving the preexisting power structure requires a lack of understanding and coalition.
So if the truth is muddied about the history of Juneteenth, and political pundits and commonfolk alike can say “well, we made Juneteenth a national holiday, so…” white supremacy can rage on. And it is here that we realize that infringing upon the masses ability to understand and act, is the greatest weapon white supremacy has at its disposal.
And it will continue to use that weapon until its dying days.
Juneteenth is a national holiday. But should we care?
For white supremacy to reign supreme in the West as it has for centuries, it must be not declared explicitly. The U.S. specifically must work under the guise of being a meritocracy.
White supremacy convinced many white people of the benefits of slavery. And to those who were unconvinced but still participated, their crime is perhaps even more heinous.
But what is more startling is the faction of lawmakers in DC making Juneteenth a holiday right now. No one is crying out for it. What we are crying out for is laws to be put in place to make sure everyone, not just suburban and rural whites, have an equal opportunity to vote.
What we are crying out for is justice against the police officers who get away with police brutality far too often. Finally, what we are crying out for is the opportunity to teach the youth the truth. Whether that is about just Juneteenth or the U.S.’s history in its entirety makes no difference. It all relates, and it all comes back to white supremacy.
Where do we go from here?
If we don’t have the ability to educate the next generations, what do we have? Well first, we have the opportunity to call out plain b.s. when we see it. Making Juneteenth a national holiday is nothing more than a distraction. Acknowledgment is the first step to moving forward.
What we can do is tell our youth at home the truth, even while formal education in America is further desecrated. And we can continue to push back against performative efforts like DC is taking part in now. If they don’t hear us now, they’ll hear us when we’re louder, when more of us are informed and upset.
Exploring Juneteenth in the 19th-century tells us a lot about the way the world was. Juneteenth being made a national holiday today tells us a lot about the way the world is. Merging these connections will illuminate our guiding light moving forward, we just have to do it together.