When the truth is a Lie
Rejoice! Hallelujah! Free at Last! Happy Jubilee! Juneteenth is now a holiday. Finally, a day our ancestors never thought would come or perhaps a day they only dreamed about but could it be a day they had already seen. A day full of promises.
Could it be a day that other than symbolically we have yet to have seen? Civil Rights, the Voting Act, Black History Month, and Martin Luther King Jr. Day brought some of the exact lofty expectations and exaltations. Please make no mistake about it; it is progress. We will take it as part of an ensemble while questionable as acknowledgment or satisfaction of meaningful change.
Let history in the future look back and be the judge if June 19th being declared a national holiday is the beginning or just another layover on the way. From this point, history looking back reveals some very curious methods of demonstrating the freedom and emancipation of Blacks in America since that initial day of liberation in 1863.
First, many have diligently and heartfeltly worked to bring about the recognition of this holiday. Second, there are many, many more who rejoice in the celebration of the symbolism of this day. Third, the swell of pride can barely be contained within the satisfaction of its recognition.
A day that is symbolic and celebratory. By no means do I want to diminish or criticize the meaning of its importance, impact, or impression for those feeling the accomplishment or validation of its achievement. However, I wonder if the degree of pride celebrated is really a source of pride symbolically or otherwise comparatively. It has to be contemplated forgoing the reality of its subsequent impact; what is the meat on the bone?
At its core, governed by the reality of its intent, purpose, application, and legislation, what was really “given,” promised, or protected by the notification of freedom. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation changed the practice but not the perception or acceptance of slavery regarding legislative integrity, only the procedure but not the context.
A quasi end to slavery and its overt methods giving way to the begging of equality and the beginning of pseudo freedom. Is Juneteenth a memorial to the atrocity or a celebration of relief from it? Quantify and contextualize the reprieve against the covert and sinister practices that have limited its impact.
If this is a celebration of relief, why are we still subjected to the injustices of discrimination rooted in slavery? Its implications both seen and unseen are effectively both overtly and covertly practiced in principle and purpose. Should it be a day of mourning the indignities suffered and the struggle to shake the remnants of its ideology?
The two-edge sword cuts efficiently on both edges, but the handle is safe from its wounding damage. The handle controls the blade, but who is holding the handle? Whoever controls the handle guides the cut. So, was what was given really received on this day? Was it not granted over two and a half years before and the notification amounted to permission to know.
The question of the delay of freedom’s notification to finally reach the outer regions granting freedom makes me wonder if it was the beginning of liberty or the end of slavery. They appear to be two different things at closer inspection in practice and law but did we fully get either?
Then it would follow that why would you celebrate the delay of the information or change above the day it was enacted into law, January 1st, 1863? Not much had essentially changed except now everyone knew about it. What about those who had already known or where it had already taken effect?
When and where it did take effect was it more in word or prominent by deed? Slavery was followed by Jim Crow and its many variations of systemic racism and injustices. Coloreds only water fountains and lunch counters existed after the Juneteenth notification. Ask Claudette Colvin or Rosa Parks about freedom to ride the bus without being required to give up your seat for a white person.
How easily are we now deceived or pacified by our need for acceptance and validation? We now have the audacity to celebrate a day that did not deliver on what our expectation and interpretation of its intent was. Have we forgotten what was promised? It did technically mostly deliver on not being a physical slave, it did not deliver on freedom from not being treated as a slave or inhumane, but then it never promised that did it?
Forced labor became coerced labor in many cases, and no education became limited or scripted education tilted towards discouragement. In many ways, there is no definitive way to deal with slavery other than to do what it takes to put it behind us by meaningful change of substance.
For example, removing qualified immunity for law enforcement, changing the economic barriers to the equal probability of a possibility of fairness, quality healthcare, education not designed for social engineering, fair taxation, loan and banking reform, criminal justice system reform, and many other reforms or proclamations would have far more reaching substantive benefits than a holiday celebrating something that in principle has yet to happen.
For a bonus, these changes would not be racially biased and would have universal benefits ensuring universal acceptance. Generally, it would be better for the Black condition if certain things were discontinued instead of a hollow holiday celebrated.
As a free nation, do we not, as everyday citizens have the right to celebrate any day we would like without that day being a national holiday, for example, your birthday? Then why do you need the government’s permission to celebrate any day of collective importance to you? You know they sell ribs, beer, and fireworks for celebrations other than government-sanctioned holidays.
For that matter, we have Kwanza, which is largely ignored. At the same time, Christmas is widely celebrated as a government-sanctioned holiday, and credit is given to a white myth, I mean Santa Claus. Thus, it could be misconstrued that we need government approval and validation to determine our cultural celebrations.
Lack of a holiday has never damaged the Black condition. Still, many other societal and institutional injustices have, so why not address them because our grievances won’t disappear with a holiday, but they might with stipulations that address inequities.
We need reciprocity to get what we have contributed to others receiving, what they have been given in equal value, context, and quantity to be reflected in the principles of our Freedom. Freedom can now be defined as the Freedom from discrimination and systemic obstructions to our unhindered participation in the American dream.
Freedom where any racial context is inconsequential to the veracity of our skill and ambition as the only factors, no more or no less than anyone else’s. That should be the interpretation and understanding attached to Juneteenth, not pacifying anyone’s guilt or outrage.
Juneteenth is a participation trophy where nothing was won or given of value. A holiday can’t be given to instill pride and validation to a race of people because, at its essence, it shares the same psychological bondages as slavery to permit you something that should be within your power and dignity to grant yourself.
It is facetious to celebrate something within you because someone permitted you to have the courage to do so. It is, however, an indictment of how far we need to progress psychologically. To claim our pride, identity, and self-acceptance fortifying our strength of self-determination.
Our validation is a singular individual journey that gives rise to our collective accumulation of ascension by removing ourselves from being part of the problem and demonstrating a statistical representation of the solution. To be counted in our progress.
Like in the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy was told she always had the power just needed to summon it up. Juneteenth, in many ways, was a promise unfulfilled. It has yet to be realized because slavery was transformed into discrimination. It has operated ever since the notification of Freedom reached the far regions of geography but has yet to fully reach the distant regions of modern time.
Time has carried the water of this ideology while bailing water only to have some refilling the vessel of hate. Therefore, celebrating this holiday does very little beyond giving you another reason to fire up the grill and not have to work.
When the celebration ends and the congratulations are done, there will still be more pressing issues that await us. So when we have to get back to the work of substantial practical progress, remain diligent not to let the celebration douse our commitment and resolve needed later to focus on the task at hand.
Any solution upholding Juneteenth purpose and intent lays between the ears of both those who champion or oppose its essence. That is where the problem started and hides. The mind conceals or reveals the perspective whereby the solution rest.
But for now, let us celebrate this day as creating temporary possibilities to pacify a truce of interests and acknowledgment of slavery but not its ills. Recognizing its ending but blinded to its revival in a different form. If this seems cynical or ungrateful, I ask, should I be celebrating Freedom or the end of slavery?
Freedom from the chains implied the condiments of Freedom from discrimination and suppression. Freedom in its essence could not have been given if after a century and almost three score long fight still not received by now. Again, slavery ends but Freedom does not begin. So there goes that delay again.
As the handler of the sword, the wielder is impervious from the damage of the blade. While those who are cut continue to cry out, where is the relief, the Freedom from damages? Should not the one injured be the judge of the injury? Truth is a lie when it is proven false and can’t survive scrutiny, or when it is brutally honest but so truthful it is repulsive and rejected as a falsehood to preserve ignorance. Which is this? The biggest lie ever told is the truth when you do not want to accept it. The lie begins where the truth ends. Where Freedom from discrimination never began.
Warning! Straight no chaser.
Truth is similar to quicksand. The more you struggle, it engulfs you. So. there can be no opposition where there is no resistance. Likewise, there can be no resistance where there is no opposition. It’s a silly notion that the last day we were notified of our Freedom made transgressions evaporate to become free. They only lessened. Only the coercion, free labor not fair labor, and physical restraint diminished while other ramifications increased. Therefore, are we free from the ramifications of being free?
We were not promised or given Freedom. They stopped robbing us of it. It was not theirs to take, so how could they give it? Now no longer a slave, are there those who do not know this still? Do we still not fully enjoy our rights despite slavery or freedom from it? The appearance of Freedom without conviction is the problem.
Consequently, being free but unaware until notified gave us a mental perspective devoid only of physical suppression. The question is, what was that perspective? Were better techniques used to accomplish the same effect? Do other’s actions promote we still are not free or do ours that we don’t know we are free? Capitulation is surrender, and submission is by defeat, both primarily of a weakened spirit. Protect yourself at all times from both.
The options are either resistance of the status quo or the system submits you regardless of race, especially if you are black, narrowing the objective and defining the rules. There is no mystery often regarding the rules, but so what, to smell success overcome them because you ARE Black. The motivation is for the smell of it.
Boasting of the obstacles overcome smells better than crying over obstacles that overcame you. Mental toughness and an analytical resolve supply your mind with the tools needed to overcome barriers. Any breach has been allowed to penetrate your mental perimeter to weaken your spirit. Be careful what is served that you devour; consider the menu and motive before consuming.
This celebration is diluted because the holiday benefits everyone whether they want it or not. Our experience paid for this day, so where are specific concessions for us with practical solutions to our Black condition. We are hustling backward for what we already grind for with everyone else now along for the feast. For transgressions against Blacks, it’s reasonable to assume any concessions would be specifically directed toward a black redress without exceptions.
Many issues linger despite the late notification or holiday for us to be patronized away from essential changes. A benefit analysis reveals the sum impact of the holiday probably is not a substantial change. Its practical benefit is not much more than if it had not been declared a holiday. It is devoid of any meat on the bone. Granted, the holiday is an absolutely appreciated acknowledgment if you accept payment in holidays, not practicalities.
Freedom is a concept manifested more in what is not taken than what is given. It is the availability of choices unhindered. Freedom gives you more options and a better selection, but not what is available to choose from, instead only what you can choose from. How available and accessible are these choices? Freedom restricts what you can not do while defining what you are allowed to do.
Freedom taken and is unable to be returned, dignity tarnished but cannot be restored, and permission still by your notification indicates the facade of Freedom yet to be realized. Unable to take or grant either now leaves only the lingering phycological afflicting bondage of spirit and mind to be shaken. We freely control that unless we relinquish it. Stand on it, stand in it, but don’t loiter around it. Loitering is a sign of hesitation. Claim it, not be told it.
Therefore, you are always free, but your options are always regulated. The mind evaluates what it is told, distinguishing whether you are notified, already knew, or believe. So it was not the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863, or the last notification made on June 19, 1865, that freed the slave it was being told.
You must know your self-worth within your mind without being told or having to ask. A strong will and a knowledgeable mind are formidable opponents when the mind becomes an elite intellectual weapon. A weapon always at the ready, rendering you unable to be disarmed. Our mind is the final frontier of contention to be conquered by us to guarantee our Freedom by our permission. Like Dorothy, we always had the power.
Knowledge is the currency of prosperity, and that is why it is always forbidden. Knowledge is Freedom. Know that, practice that, and become that. We must master our minds. You must be made to remain ignorant to remain a slave, obedient, or perpetuate a slave mentality. Ignorant of knowledge but mostly of ourselves and our possibilities. A piece of paper signed or late word spread is no longer sufficient control to restrain our minds or liberties. Our lack of discipline and determination is.
As Ten Bears said, no four corners of a paper can hold the iron. The iron is in the tongue when you speak, and in the actions you take. And if I might add, the iron is in the mind’s thoughts and heart’s determination to defeat any obstacle placed before you.
We must know by now!
Happy Juneteenth to all.
Enjoy your Freedom and holiday.
Thurston K. Atlas
Creating a Buzz