Juneteenth Judo

I began writing this on Juneteenth.

It is an extraordinary event, that in a blink of an eye, a totally dysfunctional congress-in which Republicans are committed to thwarting any success of the Democrats and the Biden administration-declared Juneteenth to be a national holiday!

What happened?

  1. Somebody created an anti-racist potion and mixed it in the water? (How about the blood of Malcolm X and the anti-bodies of James Baldwin?)
  2. The Republicans had a “Come to Jesus moment?”
  3. The Republicans thought Juneteenth was June Teeth and were all for declaring a national “Take care of your teeth” holiday. (Though there opposition to affordable healthcare makes this questionable.)
  4. The Republicans actually care about acknowledging the end of slavery?
  5. Now the Republicans can declare that they don’t have a racist bone in their body and can justify preventing critical race theory from being taught in schools because their approval of the national holiday proves the idea of institutional racism is just a bunch of malarkey?

Call me a cynic, but I’ll put my money on 5.

A few months ago, I bet most lawmakers didn’t know what Juneteenth was. Ditto for the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma, aka, Black Wall Street, that was the setting for one of the worst domestic terrorist acts and violence perpetrating on blacks in the history of our country.

The fact that few people knew what the Tulsa massacre and Juneteenth were until recently, speaks to the denialism and whitewashing of American history. Did you learn about these events in school? I sure didn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, the fact that this has all become part of the public domain is important and essential to carry on real conversations about what the black experience in this country really was and, in many ways, sadly still is. I fear that making Juneteenth a national holiday is just smoke and mirrors. (See number 5 above.)

Just a short while ago, the first Vice President to escape a lynching at a tourist event, declared systemic racism a “left wing myth.” He added: “Black lives are not endangered by police; Black lives are saved by police.” Mr. X -Vice President, what’s your take on this Juneteenth stuff?

What was that? It just proves your point that there is no such thing as institutional racism? And the police’s treatment of blacks? Right, the blacks are lucky to have the police to protect them?  Enough that stuff. How about some delicious BBQ?

Ask Brianna Taylor and George Floyd how protected they felt. Oh, you can’t, because the police killed them both. If they were white, you could ask them anything you want because they would be alive.

Did you see any Republican lawmakers out there protesting these heinous acts of inhumanity? Umm, couldn’t make it? Your feet were sore? You have bone spurs? You just had a pedicure?

If Floyd were white, the police response to his use of a fake $20 dollar bill would have been greeted with: “Listen dude, make sure you don’t do that again. If you need a job, here’s my cousin’s number. He owns a couple of stores and needs some help.”

In Brianna Taylor’s case, if she were white, the police probably would not have entered her home without a warrant and then her tragic death would have never happened.

Now that Juneteenth is a declared national holiday can we stop harping on police reform? Please it’s so unnecessary.

In all the celebration, I smell of whiff of what we were sold after Obama won in 2008. As extraordinary as his victory was, the rush to declare America a “post-racial” society was absurd and very damaging. And if you remember, our post-racial society created the “Birther” movement, a racist trope by any measure. And who carried the banner of the movement: The Don! Who became our next president: The Don!

This fallacy of a post-racial society led to the devastating gutting of the 1965 Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court. The act created protections against states with histories of unfair voting practices were monitored and needed approval of the Justice Department to change voting procedures. That had a profound impact on protecting the integrity of voting, particularly for black and brown voters, who were most at risk of disenfranchisement.

So now that Republicans have given a full-throated endorsement of Juneteenth, what’s all the hubbub about voting rights?

In making Juneteenth a national holiday in the blink of an eye, the Republicans can say: “Hey, look, we gave you a holiday. Give us a break.”

Funny thing. When Joe Biden won Georgia and then the Democrats pulled off two senate victories there o gain the majority, the Republicans went to work, pursuing voting restrictions all across the country. They claim they are protecting democracy and want to make sure Blacks have the same opportunities to vote as White folks. And they are all for Blacks bringing their own water but, why do they have to go to the polls after church? Why do they need so many voting facilities? Why is everyone up in arms about the Republicans interest in preserving voting integrity?

In a classic black is white and white is black move, Senator Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, had the temerity to accuse Democrats of playing a hateful race card to promote voting-rights legislation: “I hope that damage isn’t being done,” he added, “but it is always very dangerous to falsely play the race card and let’s face it, that’s what’s being done here.”

 That statement is extraordinary. It is like someone seeing the fox in the hen house and when pointed out that it is a fox, it responds that you are crazy because it is a chicken.

Come on, with Juneteenth a national holiday, it is ridiculous and frankly destructive to our country to be introducing Critical Race Theory into the classrooms.

It is so crazy to teach that historical patterns of racism are ingrained in   law and other modern institutions, and that the legacies of slavery, segregation and Jim Crow still create an uneven playing field for Black people and other people of color.

As Mike Pence claimed: “systemic racism is a left-wing myth.”  The fact that Juneteenth is a national holiday should put an end to all this silly talk.

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