Don’t sing just for Juneteenth. Make a commitment to end the racism that made it necessary. / LGBTQ Nation

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On June 17, President Joe Biden proclaimed a new federal holiday recognizing “Juneteenth National Independence Day”. Juneteenth is an annual commemoration on June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers, many of them black, informed enslaved blacks in Galveston, Texas that they had been freed by President Abraham Lincoln in by virtue of his proclamation of emancipation.

In the current political and educational climate, with a growing number of lawmakers trying to ban honest discussions about our nation’s past, we may have created a paradox by establishing a new federal law that educators can be barred from. teach.

Related: We Fought For Freedom And Equality, Not For T-Shirts Or Cell Phone Packages

Juneteenth was the official legal end of the brutal and inhumane institution of slavery across the United States of America, although it continued in other forms through the Jim Crow era, until and including contemporary times.

Hopefully on our brand new federal holiday, rather than looking for branded discounts on refrigerators, cars, mattresses, and barbecues in our capitalist, consumerist economic system, we instead reflect on our continuing legacy of slavery in our country – and the racism and capitalist structures that spawned to replace it.

I had the privilege and honor of attending a virtual conference sponsored by the Reparations Legacy Project, a group of committed largely white activists who work to compensate people of African descent in the United States for wages. and the goods that have been stolen from them since white slavers first landed with their human African cargo in 1619 on the shores of Virginia.

The reparations legacy project rejects mere charity or donations from wealthy philanthropists, but instead calls for true and honest accounting of how the capitalist system inherently requires division and exploitation of workers to function.

Organizers of the Reparations Legacy Project conference estimated that $ 14 trillion is owed to blacks in the United States in the form of stolen wealth. Reparation is equivalent to the return of the stolen resources.

From the moment we are born, people in the United States are fed the rhetoric that in this “exceptional” nation, anyone can be successful if they have the qualities of hard work, ambition and personal responsibility. This theory of “meritocracy”, however, is a myth, a lie, a fraud, just like the theory and practice of “economic trickle down” in which the possessing class pays part of its gigantic wealth and compassion to the workers. in their businesses.

In reality, only the crumbs trickle down.

“Success” in financial terms is more related to family heritage, social and cultural capital and, of course, the presentation of essential social identities in terms of socio-economic class and race. While economic disparities plague every nation on the planet, nowhere are these disparities more extreme than in the United States.

For example, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), McDonald’s is one of the companies that pays American workers the least. Current CEO Stephen Easterbrook received $ 15.9 million in 2018, which is 2,124 times the median employee salary of $ 7,473. Easterbrook earns in an hour the equivalent of what a median employee earns in a full year.

Middle and senior executives earn a little more, but how can a family of four, for example, thrive on an annual income of $ 65,000 to $ 100,000 per year in one of the major cities of the United States? with an astronomical cost of living?

Whites, who make up only 11 percent of the world’s population, own 80 percent of the world’s resources and wealth, while 80 percent of the world’s population try to subsist on the equivalent of $ 2.50 to 10 , $ 00 per day. This disparity, and others, is largely due to colonialism and racism.

As we walk through the historical emergence of the concept of “race,” critical race theorists remind us that this concept was born at the same time as the advent of European exploration. It was used as a justification and justification for the conquest and domination of the globe from the 15th century CE, reaching its peak at the beginning of the 20th century.

Members of the African People’s Solidarity Committee and the African People’s Socialist Party (in particular, their Chairman, Omali Yeshitela) presented a historical account of the transformation of what were several distinct and belligerent tribes into what we call today. hui “Europe” literally built on the resources and forced labor of the African peoples from 1415 with the Portuguese invasion and the enslavement of Africans on the African continent.

Geneticists tell us that there is often more variability within a given so-called ‘race’ than between ‘races’, and that there are no essential genetic markers linked specifically to the breed. “race”. They therefore argue that “race” is constructed in a discursive fashion – a historical, “scientific”, biological myth, an idea – and that all socially designed “racial” physical markers are fictitious and inconsistent with what lies beneath it. surface of the body.

Colonialism is the very foundation of capitalism – the accumulation of capital is acquired from the commodification of Africa and the black bodies. It is more than symbolic that in 1711, slavers sold African bodies in the slave markets where Wall Street in New York now resides.

The Freedmen’s Bank, which gave accounts to blacks across the country during Reconstruction, had reached $ 64 million. White businessman and politician Henry D. Cooks, who served on the bank’s board of directors, approved unsecured loans at his own operating career.

Following a stock market crash in 1873, the quarry went bankrupt, and soon after, so did the bank. Largely because of fraud and mismanagement like this, the bank went bankrupt – taking with it the deposits of many blacks – in 1874.

Even when blacks “overcome” the disparities caused by whites and institutions, they are still subject to the murder and destruction of blacks and property in cities like Tulsa, Rosewood, St. Petersburg, St. Louis and other. of white resentment towards the accumulation of black wealth.

The 1921 massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma left hundreds dead and injured and the looting of approximately $ 22.5 million in wealth at the time, which today would be several times that amount. . This stolen legacy of black wealth repeated itself in an endless cycle.

These atrocities and many others have never been addressed, let alone repaired.

At this year’s Kennedy Center Honors ceremonies, which celebrate this country’s top performers in so many fields, Joan Baez – known for fusing her unique singing and writing style with social justice causes – was among the recipients.

Those gathered sang “We Shall Overcome,” which Joan was known to have performed hundreds of times (although she did not write it.) Among the audience, lending her voice in the song, was the Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). Politicians need to know that it is more important to walk the long and difficult road to real and lasting change than to just sing about it.

Politicians must stop singing long enough to pass a law that fully guarantees citizens’ right to vote and rescinds gerrymandering.

Stop singing long enough to pass a law that completely rebuilds our aging and crumbling infrastructure, disproportionately impacting people of color.

Stop singing long enough to pass a law that provides real solutions to the gun violence crisis, which also disproportionately affects people of color.

Stop singing long enough to pass a law that attacks the racist roots of law enforcement.

Stop singing long enough to pass legislation to clean up our environment and reverse man-made climate change before it’s too late to save our planet.

Stop chanting long enough to remove the filibuster from the Jim Crow-era Senate, which in its current form makes it nearly impossible to pass legislation to cure the ailments that plague us.

And we white people have to stop singing long enough to realize how complicit in the oppression of people of color, subconsciously and consciously. We must recognize our socially granted undeserved privilege due to our white packaging.

Politicians and others from all political parties and philosophies must fulfill the call of the Socialist Party of the African People to Uhuru – the Swahili term for “Freedom”. Remember that Juneteenth should be more than the commemoration of an event in Galveston in 1865.



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