One Year Later: Celebrating Juneteenth
By Sheila Meh
Well folks it’s been a year since you’ve heard from me and what a year it’s been! We’ve made leaps and bounds in medicine as it relates to COVID-19, we’ve become more adjusted to our routines, and we’ve started to imagine a world in which the pandemic doesn’t run our lives. It’s wonderful to hear such good news! As someone who loves to travel and see friends and family, I couldn’t wait to get the vaccine and start doing the things I loved again. While things are constantly evolving and changing in the pandemic, there are some things that don’t feel like they are. Last time you heard from me, I talked about the importance of Juneteenth and what it meant to me. This was primarily due to the fact that two high-profile killings, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, occurred right in front of our eyes. Only one of those instances has come to a close since our last meeting. While locking Chauvin up feels like music to my ears, I fully understand it doesn’t bring George Floyd back. It doesn’t restore the pain, hurt, and trauma our community experienced. It doesn’t reverse the anger of a beaten community. And it certainly doesn’t excuse what’s already happened in the past — but it’s the beginning. This reunion between you and I isn’t about feeling bad for ourselves, but rather a celebration of what’s to come.
As a reminder, Juneteenth was established in 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and declared the end of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery. Since then, it’s been a symbol of freedom for the black community. While this was fantastic news, the ugliness of racism and prejudice had made its mark on America and continues to do so today. Since George Floyd’s murder, Newsweek reported as of May 25th, 2021, at least 229 black people have been murdered across the US at the hands of police. I don’t know about you, but that’s 229 too many. These people, like us, should be living and well with their loved ones. On Memorial Day, they should be grilling, getting ready for work, and generally enjoying life. Instead, they’re left in the street and when we hear the stories about what happened it all sounds way too similar.
Like I said earlier I want our reunion to be a celebration of what’s to come. We can’t bury ourselves in the bad and not consider the amazing things people are doing to spread some good. Non-profits such as The Black Vision Collective, Reclaim the Block, and Racial Justice Network are doing incredible things to restore faith back into communities all over Minnesota. Big firms are being held accountable for exploiting minority populations for the first time. And people are finally starting to stand up for the voiceless because they realize if they don’t, they are a part of the problem. As I look at all the good that’s being done, I realize none of this happened overnight. To get here, we needed active engagement (whether genuine or not). It’s this type of involvement that is going to move us forward into a future I can feel safer bringing children into. I’m not saying America is fixed (we are far from that), but I can say, there’s a spark.
I want to rejoice this Juneteenth because of the hope I have! I want to splurge on all things black and be completely unabashedly myself. I want to support and hug old friends (who have also been vaccinated) and give them space to feel free as well. I want to hear about black stories that don’t include trauma because we’ve had enough of those. For Juneteenth, I want to claim the same right to happiness as my white peers. If it’s alright with you, I want to give you a call to action this holiday. If you have a close black person in your life, whether you’re black or an ally, simply ask them: “How can I celebrate you?” Now don’t make them feel awkward about it or force them into a response, but provide the space to let them feel like with everything going on they are worthy of being celebrated. The worst thing we can do after this holiday is regress and forget about what’s happened this past year; we can’t afford to do that. As we continue to honor the commitment to equality and be the change agent in our small circles, you’ll continue to see the larger effect it has on the world.
Are you looking for more ways to commemorate Juneteenth? See the listing of black owned businesses to visit:
Sheila Meh is a former Coach at Alchemy 365 North Loop, Alchemy Anywhere, and a beloved member of our community. She currently works as a Boutique Fitness Business Consultant and can be found on Instagram as @thesheilzlife.
Published at 16:57:36 +0000 on Friday, June 18, 2021.