Juneteenth is a federal and state holiday and still I am still seeking liberation.
“All my life I had to fight,” Alice Walker wrote in The Color Purple On screen, it was Oprah Winfrey as Sophia who made that quote Black famous. In these times, no other line so eloquently describes the exasperation of having to be always ready to battle a never-tiring enemy: racism.
That quote could also be the collective statement for multiple generations of Black folks battling through eras of racism, oppression and inequity. Slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow and Segregation, Civil Rights, the New Jim Crow (mass incarceration), and our most recent fight against escalated racist behavior, practices and policies. The common thread through Black generations was – and is to this day – that we must fight for our freedom.
Juneteenth signifies the moment the last vestiges of enslaved Black folks found out that they indeed were liberated. It’s hard to imagine it took more than two years for the news to finally reach them, especially in this modern day when information travels around the globe instantly. Sadly, 157 years later, we are still fighting for the liberation we sorely deserve.
Looking at the arc of Black American history,1619 to today, we must note numerous moments of achievement – the first Black this or that. Perhaps because of the infinite number of tremendous seen and unseen hurdles thwarted Black success, those moments become significant, sweeter. But history also notes those moments are fleeting, crushed by systemic oppression that emotes regression, the honeyed melodies of success that lulls us into a coma-like complacency.
Our origins in the African Diaspora are quilted in majestic royalty. We are warriors – strong, resourceful and resilient, juxtaposed to a multi-generation inheritance of inequity. Yet in spite of this we rise to reclaim our families, create our own institutions, build our own cities, dominate creativity and invention, master science and technology, grow our own economy and we give – to create the change we wish to see. This is liberation for us, by us!
The Black Resilience in Colorado (BRIC) Fund was established on Juneteenth (June 19) 2020. It is an appropriately named Black community resource rooted in resilience, and BRIC’s vision is to build strong Black communities. Just a short two years later, BRIC is joined by over 45 similar Black funds and initiatives, from coast to coast, working to dismantle historic racism and systemic oppression and bolster Black liberation in their respective communities and beyond.
This Juneteenth, let us celebrate the freedoms we have secured and recommit to fight for the ultimate liberation we seek – BRIC by BRIC.