Father’s Juneteenth 6/20/22

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

This is a day late.  By the time this article posts yesterday will have been both Father’s Day and Juneteenth.  Since Juneteenth was named a national holiday, today is the official day for the celebration of Juneteenth. 

Father’s Day is not a subject of celebration for me.  It’s a little painful to remember a father who was emotionally abusive, as it is simultaneously depressing to remember that, although I’ve always wanted to be one, I’ve never been a father.  Not really.  But that being said, I have many friends who are such marvelous fathers, and their praises should be sung. 

There’s a distinct difference between a father and a dad.  Not every father wants to spend time with their children or build a real relationship with them, so those who do deserve to be celebrated.  I must admit, I’ve learned a lot about being a great dad by some of my good friends, and I’m proud of them all.

Juneteenth, on the other hand, is a celebration of the end of slavery.  The emancipation proclamation did not end slavery, as many slave owners in southern states refused to recognize the new law of the land.  As a result, fighting continued, state by state, by the Union army.  As they continued the fight, they freed slaves from their owners as they went.  Juneteenth celebrates June 19, 1865, when the Union army “officially” freed the last of the slaves who were still held in Texas.  This was over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, issued on January 1, 1863. 

Unfortunately, the struggle didn’t end in 1865.  In another five years, the fifteenth amendment gave African American men the right to vote on February 3, 1870.  Then came the Jim Crow laws, designed to suppress minorities in individual states.  In 1896, the Fourteenth Amendment was passed guaranteeing equal protection regardless of race as the law of the land in an effort to end the individual Jim Crow Laws.  This wasn’t the end either.

Today, the struggle continues.  The reality is that some people are just afraid of change.  Today, there are still many people afraid of the changing demographics of our nation (giving rise to the “Erase Culture” conspiracy theory).  Systemic racism as all too apparent in our nation, and the protests of 2019 and 2020.  White Supremacists are on the rise today under a variety of banners but all amounting to nothing more than hatred of anybody who looks different and refusal to see the reality of racism in our nation. 

As it turns out, Juneteenth has become one of the greatest travel days of the year, causing problems with airlines as they face a critical shortage of pilots and have been forced to cancel many flights as a result.  But while people are enjoying their day off, I believe it’s important to remember that Juneteenth, at its core, is a reminder of not only how far we’ve come, but how much further we have yet to go before true equality is achieved. 

There was a lot to celebrate this past weekend, but also a lot to remember and even lament.  Excellent dads are a true blessing, but too many men are narcissistic and abusive to their family.  I know so many great fathers and have far too many friends struggling under the yolk of oppressive men.  Sadly, our society still pressures women into simply accepting such treatment in silence, and laws are still skewed towards men.  Having worked with a police department, I know all too well that restraining orders fail far too often. 

In this age of enlightenment, it’s still necessary to scream to be heard with messages that go against the desire of the powerful, even with comments that are just.  The protests a couple of years ago were largely peaceful, and those that were not often showed evidence of sabotage, outside infiltrators causing damage and criminal activity to mar the protests.  The size of the protests were certainly frightening, but should also be taken as a sign of just how significant the problem truly is.  Caucasian men are slowly losing their status as the ethnic majority, and that frightens many of them.  After all, once they are in the minority, they wouldn’t want to be treated as our society have been treating other minorities in our society.  Maybe, instead of fighting these changing demographics, it’s time to change our racist society and the laws so when we (as I am also a Caucasian male) so we need not fear being treated like, well, the proverbial “them”.

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