I was assisted in putting together this suggestion by a bottle of The Prisoner Wine Company – Unshackled Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 – St. Helena California. Dark. Dry. Sharp structure. Moderate tannins and acidity. Leading in with cocoa, vanilla, and ripe blackberries. A sustain of plums, tobacco, and oak. Ending boldly with cherries, apples, and raspberries. Long – moderately heavy finish.
“I am for the acquiring of knowledge or the accumulating of knowledge – as we now call it; education. First, my people must be taught knowledge of self. Then and only then will they be able to understand others and that which surrounds them. Anyone who does not have a knowledge of self is considered a victim of either amnesia or unconsciousness and is not very competent. The lack of knowledge of self is a prevailing condition among my people here in America. Gaining the knowledge of self makes us unite into a great unity. Knowledge of self makes you take on the great virtue of learning.”
Elijah Muhammad (“Message To The Blackman”)
The picture above is of the State Flower of Texas – the Texas Bluebonnet (Lupinus Texenis). Beautiful? It is a species of lupine – a genus of flowering plants in the legume family Fabaceae. The genus includes over 199 species, with centers of diversity in North and South America. Lupinus Texenis is found in Texas, and the Mexican states of Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas.
At the time of this writing – it is the first week of June 2022. Juneteenth became a federal holiday on June 19, 2021. That was a good thing – actually. Lately, I have been listening to various Twitter spaces, and reading a few articles online. There have been legitimate complaints from Freedmen, Foundational Black Americans, B1’s, ADOS, and others regarding the commercialization of, the co-opting of, and the perceived mishandling of Juneteenth. The flash point that ignited the Freedmen community was Walmart selling – then recalling “Juneteenth Ice Cream.” The recall came as a result of a backlash primarily done on social media. Wonderful. We get what we want when we unify and focus. Now, the complaints are valid to a point.
But!!! I think that some of the culpability is misplaced.
Why? Well Family – we cannot expect other groups to do the proper thing in this Juneteenth space because of two reasons. Reason One: The United States is an unabashedly capitalist country in fact and practice. We cannot legitimately allow anger to lace up our thoughts and words if WE have not established control and ownership of this Juneteenth issue, which is clearly being mishandled. Let us also understand that serious consequences have their place when interlopers interlope. We must be ruthless and uncompromising in that respect. Understand? People are going to commercialize and transactionize anything that is potentially or currently profitable and has no circumscriptions, taboos, or restrictions. Just the way it is.
A law of the universe.
Reason Two: Because WE as a Freedmen community HAVE NOT established hard standards, unimpeachable protocols, and responsible ownership. Full Stop.
Family – no line has been drawn. No prohibition has been enforced.
So. What should we do about this? What is it that we need to know? Well, what is going to be discussed here are suggested attitudes and actions to get control of this very important day. Just American Freedmen type Suggestions! OK Family?
What Is Juneteenth
This Juneteenth, which is now a federal holiday, commemorates the secondary emancipation or complete enfranchisement of Foundational Black American slaves. It is also observed for celebrating American Freedmen culture. The final landing of a 900 day legal manumission trajectory starting from January 1, 1863 until its ending on June 19, 1865. Juneteenth originated in Galveston, Texas. It has been celebrated annually on June 19 in various parts of the United States since 1865. The day was recognized and established as a federal holiday on June 17, 2021. President Joseph Biden signed the “Juneteenth National Independence Day Act” into law.
Juneteenth’s commemoration is on the anniversary date of the June 19, 1865 announcement of General Order No. 3 by Union Army general Gordon Granger, proclaiming freedom for enslaved people in Texas. This was the last state of the Confederacy to operate with legal institutional slavery.
The Emancipation Proclamation, issued on January 1, 1863, freed enslaved people in Texas and all the other Southern secessionist states of the Confederacy except for the parts of states not in rebellion. Although the Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery in the Confederate States – it did not end slavery in states that remained in the Union. The last enslaved people present in the continental United States were freed when the enslaved people held in the Indian Territories that had sided with the Confederacy were released, namely the Choctaw (“and Brown?”), in 1866.
Celebrations date to 1866, at first involving church-centered community gatherings in Texas. They spread across the South and became more commercialized in the 1920’s and 1930’s, often centering on a food festival. The participants in the Great Migration out of the South carried their celebrations to other parts of the country. During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s, these celebrations were eclipsed by the nonviolent determination to achieve civil rights, but grew in popularity again in the 1970’s with a focus on African American freedom and economics.
Beginning with Texas by proclamation in 1938, and by legislation in 1979, each state and the District Of Columbia have formally recognized the holiday in some way. With its adoption in certain parts of Mexico, the holiday became an international holiday. Juneteenth is celebrated by the Mascogos, descendants of Black Seminoles who escaped from slavery in 1852 and then settled in Coahuila, Mexico. But that Seminole-Mexican celebration has a different meaning and substance than our American Juneteenth. And that difference is exclusive to American Freedmen.
Why It Should Be Recognized
One “Why:” Juneteenth is not only a time to commemorate, remember, and reflect to be sure. It can also be regarded as a practice run – a political test to see if we can responsibly handle one of the responsibilities of reparations (taking it back from others). Many of the same challenges and requirements are held here. Exclusivity, specificity, pulling the gate up, ownership of the issue, drawing Tribal lines, and ultimately shaping the narrative. The Other “Why:” Follow me here: For those that are religious, you have religious holidays and observances. Many people on those days do, let’s say “spiritual resets” and recommitments. For those that are married, you have wedding anniversaries. And some couples use that day to renew their vows and “reset” their commitments to each other. Understand?
Juneteenth is a serious political day. Being released from slavery is a political act. Identifying who are members of our Tribe is a political act. Got It? Strengthening, expanding, reuniting with, and operationizing the family unit is a political act. Doing research on your Tribal history and learning the details of your lineage is a political act. Working on improving our Tribal interpersonal relations with each other as American Freedmen – and becoming more acceptable to each other is a political act (HEY! Something that MUST be accomplished for our survival).
Our unity is a political act (to nail the importance of that – in the 1960’s the late FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover stated: “The greatest threat to the United States is Negro unity.”). You See? Juneteenth is a time of political education and reset for American Freedmen. That is why it should be recognized. Everything about our existence is political. From birth to death. Even where you will be buried is a political act.
Juneteenth is our political reset day.
How Should It Be Recognized
The “How” in this instance starts with the “Where.” And that should be AT HOME.
Yes – AT HOME. Or, at “Big Momma’s house.” Right? You know how we do. Starting with preparing a menu. With meals consisting of a healthy “soul food” (hopefully vegan) layout with dishes traditional to Black culture and Juneteenth (like red velvet cake and red-hued drinks). A commemoration can also take the form of a family reunion style outing at a city or state park. Some cases may be done at a banquet or party hall. Depends on the participant situation.
This should be a memory and reset day regarding the emancipation of our people and the struggle we have and continue to endure as we fight for our full liberation. We must reestablish this as a day of reflection and strengthening the awareness of the labor and pain Freedmen sacrificed to build America. This is important Family: There should be no parades or festivals. This is serious Family, not playtime.
The colors of Juneteenth are Red, White, and Blue. Flags? The meaning-filled Juneteenth Heritage flag, the American flag, the Black American flag (created in 1967), and the American Freedmen (“F1”) flag would be proper. Anything purchased to perform the holiday should be purchased as intentionally as possible from American Freedman owned businesses or community members. American Freedmen that possess craft skills can assist in making items to not only personalize their family’s commemoration – but that move also helps to protect against the wholesale co-opting of Juneteenth by non-Freedmen individuals and businesses.
Those Freedmen with appropriate skills should dedicate time to offering paid services and goods to the Freedmen community for Juneteenth. Goods can be specially made once a year for the Juneteenth holiday. A national Freedmen Juneteenth merchant registry should be developed if one does not already exist.
A Juneteenth To Do List:
- Add to the family lineage notebook or tree with new entries or new information regarding ancestors. Also – making sure that family members have information on genealogy services, databases, and DNA testing facilities.
- Making sure that all eligible family members are registered (as independent and able to vote in any primary if possible in one’s state) voters. And to implore all members of the family to participate in the national Census.
- Promote firearms acquisition, licensing, and training. Along with discussing survivalist knowledge and crisis handling (remember Buffalo Family).
- Promote and implement family business start-ups, pooled family investments, and proficiency in the realms of finance and money. Make Plans! June 2022 can be the foundational year of the idea and inaugural execution of “Economic Parallelism” (details to be explained in a future post).
- Promote the finding of and making the connections with as of yet unknown members of one’s extended family. Connecting with family members that are militarily deployed, hospitalized, out of town, or incarcerated. Reverse migration to the South is something that should also be discussed.
- Discuss the latest developments regarding the reparations issue – and encourage active participation in getting reparations accomplished. Make clear in these discussions why NAARC, N’COBRA, and FirstRepair are the enemies of Pure Reparations and full political equity for American Freedmen.
- Discuss politics, pending bills, candidates, and equity issues – and encourage active participation in Freedmen politics. Discuss (and implement) working on better interpersonal relations with your American Freedmen neighbors and establishing strong Freedmen community networks locally and nationally.
Juneteenth is a get-together to get it together day Family. The reunions. The hugs. The kisses. And don’t forget to have a minute of silence for the Ancestors.
What Juneteenth Is Not
What Juneteenth is not? Well – for starters, it is not in any way ever about Pan Africanism. Stop It. The Red, Black, and Green colors of Pan Africanism should not be anywhere near Juneteenth. Anathema. Disrespectful. This day absolutely has nothing to do with the Caribbean or Caribbeans. There are attempts now being made from ignorance and/or intent to “Africanize” Juneteenth. This we cannot allow. And this is within our power to stop. Juneteenth is a Native Black American Domestic Affair. Wholly contained within the context of American history. This holiday – exclusively to be shaped and executed by Black American Freedmen.
A quote from Sister Soldier Morgan Malachi:
“Juneteenth is not a holiday for all people. It is a day for Freedmen in Texas [and Freedmen nationwide]. No individual or company [outside of the Freedmen community] should be able to co-opt the message and history of this historic American Freedmen event. We cannot allow grifters to corporatize Juneteenth or change its meaning to the Freedmen community. Many examples of how American Freedmen throughout history honored the holiday point to the use of Red, White, and Blue at these Emancipation Day celebrations by formerly enslaved people. We cannot allow those outside of our community to dictate how we will practice our sacred traditions. All Black people are not American Freedmen. All People of Color are not American Freedmen. This is a notice to all non-Freedmen. You will stop the blatant disrespect of the history and sacrifice of our community.”
As you can see from this quote, I am not the only one that is peeved about this situation. Morgan Malachi encapsulates the proper attitude and goals in the above quote. Is this attitude something that the Freedmen community can adopt?
Even though friends and family gathering is part of what Juneteenth is about – it is not a “party” or “celebratory” type of thing. It is, or should be, an upright formal commemoration and reset. Rendered with the same solemnity and dignity that the Jewish community performs and respects Passover. Here is another Morgan quote:
“Juneteenth needs to return to its roots. Juneteenth should not be commemorated by a parade or festival until ALL American Freedmen get their justice claim which is lineage based reparations [Full Stop]. There is nothing to celebrate at this point in our history. We owe it to the Freedmen community to be clear and intentional about winning the battle for reparations. We must be [openly] unapologetic and [unreservedly] confrontational about our ethnic boundaries. This starts now.”
And that takes an attitude of OWNERSHIP. Do we own our commemoration or not Family? This is what we have to decide on – and move on. Let’s lock it up.
Since the days of Booker T. Washington – American Freedmen have always been passive Pan Africans. We never cared where you were from. If you’re Black, you are MY Brother – If you’re Black, you are MY Sister: “Are We?” We established a Flat BLACK and projected that powerful idea across the world. The center of world Blackness is America – Not Africa. The American crucible fired by the combustibles of slavery and racism-white supremacy burned away any notions of operative tribalism within us. That burning was and is now – to our political and economic detriment. We are at this late – but not too late date, now waking up to that fact.
Now, to me – I mean, if you want to sub-categorize American Freedmen, I think there are three kinds of “mixes” in this country that were born amongst us. I have my own terminology. There are: 1. Early Mixes (born from 1619 to 1867 – the slave rape period), 2. Middle Mixes (born from 1868 to 1960 – the miscegenation period), and 3. Late Mixes (born from 1961 to the present – the mostly consensual, but-be-sure-to-check-anyway period). Hey – there you go, we’re all mixed. That “mix” is one of the main markers of “American Freedmen-ness.” Rape – You Know?
And to hell with “Biracial.” I roll with the “one drop rule.” I do so because yes, there may be several genetic categories to identify and classify, but there was and is in this country – AMERICA, depending on where one is on a perceptual, phenotypical, and/or self-identification scale – only two kinds of treatment: White Treatment, and Nigger Treatment. Nigger Treatment is the basis for Reparations.
And notice that Caribbeans and Africans are not a significant part of that Middle and Late Mix calculus. That is because Black Diasporian residency in this country was to the right of the decimal point before 1965. The bulk of Black immigrants did not arrive here until after 1980. Got Here Good – after the racial smoke cleared. White friends and lovers. Able to attend university in peace. Coffee at Starbucks. Only a few recent genetic connections to us. The Diasporans – strategically hostile to us. Socially partitioned from us. Economically separated away from us.
Either you are an American Freedman or not.
One must also consider, from 1619, till now, the racial mozaic that we now call “Black” comes from the genetic “early and middle period folding in” of European and multi-tribal African DNA. And the “late period re-folding-in” of genetic traits from different African ethnic groups, American Indian, Hispanic, Asian, and the further addition of occasional (consensual) European-American infusions. And that still expanding mozaic is as it is, from just us having relations with each other.
We are a new and exceptional people.
Because of the unique racial deconstruction and reformulation that we have gone through – this was contained only in this country. We must establish certain rights, delineate certain distinctions, and make certain demands based on our completely American lineage. Not only did we provide the basis for the economic and cultural richness of this country – but our DNA is inextricably enmeshed to the soil of this land. Some Nazi said: “Blood And Soil?” NO! That tribal phrase is an appropriate descriptor of us and OUR Holocaust. A Holocaust that started the first minute of the year 1619. Going nonstop through every second of every day of every year.
I use “Blood And Soil” without apology. That we cannot escape, nor can anyone replace that fact. We – along with the foundational whites (the ones that arrived and stayed and enslaved AND – between 1619 to 1865) are the true “Paid In Blood – Invested In Full” co-owners of this country. But Freedmen are exclusively owed.
And the Diaspora knows this deal as well. But the 400 year ferociousness of racism-white supremacy created a flat-Blackness in our Freedmen consciousness out of a sheer but presumed racial necessity. Brothers and Sisters. Protection. Economics. Racial Militancy. Global Black Unity. Out of that Black racial consciousness and sweetness of heart came Pan Africanism. The Freedmen created Pan Africanism.
OK? Felt Good. Sounded Good.
But there’s a problem: The promotion of Pan Africanism has always been one-sided. The American side. Of course, there have been a few non-American Pan Africans like George Padmore, Julius Nyerere, Kwame Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta, and the controversial Marcus Garvey. But they were anecdotal outliers. With the exception of Marcus Garvey, Pan Africanism was not a part of the consciousness of the people they led and/or associated with. Pan African philosophy was ninety-nine percent a part of the consciousness of American Freedmen only. Not Good.
Tribalism is the Diasporic norm outside the community of American Freedmen. Pan Africanism at best means fake cooperation and reciprocity in name only. In clear truth – the Diasporans see the Freedmen as another tribe. As a “them” – not as an “us.” Economically seen as A Lick. Suckers – to be tribally screwed over.
Aren’t we “Brothers?” Ahh NO… We have no brothers nor sisters Anywhere.
Pan Africanism has never been good or operational for American Freedmen. And with certain exceptions – the Diaspora both domestically and internationally have shown themselves to be an undermining collective. Happily joining with the forces and systems of racism-white supremacy to derail the access to and enjoyment of our birthright. The NAARC/N’COBRA Axis of today is primarily responsible for opening that dirty door and facilitating this ugly mess. It is our first responsibility to understand what we are politically, culturally, and economically dealing with.
We as a people are far too civil with other-colored “strangers,” and friendly-presenting but strategically-minded white oppressors. We must develop hard self-esteem and Tribal pride about ourselves. Work with each other, and put up a steel gate Family. Understand – we must do the hard work of raising the consciousness and political viability of the 40 Millions of our American Freedmen Tribe. Right Here. Within, upon, and throughout OUR American Homeland. Right Here.
Complacency Equals Death.
Commercialization without permission or guidance is point-blank disrespect. We’ve been commercialized and commodified for over 400 years. Aren’t we a little tired of this? Whenever commercialization happens – whether the commercializer is Caribbean, African, or white. The hive should come out of every woodwork and sting, call, email, and confront offending commercializers into submission. We need to seriously get super nasty with disrespecters. Because nastiness and confrontation in many cases are the only thing folks like this understand. Lawsuits, cease and desist orders, and circumscribing legislation should also be a part of our toolbox.
Commercializers only respect power and the possibility of getting hurt.
Don’t be ashamed, embarrassed, or feel that you have to be restrained in your disapproval. Take a lesson from the Jews. Commercialize their stuff without permission – and see what happens. Insult them – and see what happens. One wrong or misplaced word (Whoopi Goldberg) even in support of their community – and they will unrelentingly injure you financially and socially. No Discussion. No Compromise. No Nothing. The Jewish community as a tribal collective will get On Code and stomp you six feet into the ground with no hesitation, reserve, or mercy. They will enthusiastically erase you from all of your Black earthly existence.
The Jewish community shows what can be done when you are 2.4% of the United States population and unreservedly On Code – as opposed to what can’t be done when you are 13% of the population in this country, and mostly Off Code. They respect themselves – and will not allow others to run over them without substantial and permanent consequences. That’s the right way Family. We should be the same.
NO Forgiveness, Reconciliation, or Compromise. None. Leave that for Jesus.
The Responsibility Of Freedmen
Family!!! We must get On Code and TAKE BACK our stuff. We as a Tribe are way too Loose – Casual – and Distracted Family. We are at a racial tipping point.
We must respect the Law of Survival.
Because we have failed to exercise an operational respect for each other specifically and our Tribe generally – we have lost out on us and everything on so many levels including control of our commemorative representations. Never forget that the way we handle the things that represent us and the milestones in our history as a people is just as political an act as securing voting rights and demanding specific policies for American Freedmen. Yes Family – commemorations and observances ARE POLITICAL. Your political attitude reflects your degree of self-respect. We must handle all politics with enlightened selfishness and uncompromising ownership. Gates need to be up Family. By our hand – Juneteenth needs to be disaggregated from the mis-colored Pan African Diaspora, and reset to its proper ownership.
END OF POST
I would like to thank Sister Soldiers Morgan Malachi of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Rose Cannon of Evanston, Illinois for their timely and intelligent contributions to this post.
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