Juneteenth holiday and the Fitisemanu v. the United States are a double-downed middle finger to black and brown colonized bodies
Let me preface this by stating unabashedly that the following thoughts are mine and mine alone. They do not represent any brand, company, or person that I may be affiliated with.
June 16, 2021, is a day that is mired in frustration. After a year of protests, trauma, uprisings, friction, and what seems to be unending racial conflict, this particular Wednesday ended with a huge middle finger to black and brown bodies across every part of the United States. Black people have been fighting for equality and equity in this country for more than a century. Our bodies have been used for target practice, unethical medical discoveries, and complete humiliation at the hands of government and all its white contemporaries. In the present day, we continue to shoulder this pain, the utter disrespect, and the trauma that comes with being black with a level of dignity and grace that this country does not deserve. And on this day, the very same government and its white contemporaries made swift decisions as if to say, “here, this is all you are worth.”
Juneteenth is an important day. It marks the day that all enslaved were free, and yet that freedom had to come by force; it wasn’t freely given. For almost a decade, this country has been teetering on a thin line over the racial tensions that have been festering under the guise of patriotism and progress. We watch black and brown bodies die in the street at the hands of those who protect and serve, and nothing concrete is done to resolve any of this. But, we receive a holiday for our troubles—one kissmehassday. That is a level of gaslighting that only the US can employ, and people will let it pass under the guise of “well at least its something.” Naw! It’s nothing. It doesn’t amount to anything when you tally up centuries of blood lost at the very hands of this country.
Let’s go ahead and insult to injury. The Fitisemanu v. United States upheld the racist and unequal ruling of the Insular Cases that legalized the alien status treatment of ALL AMERICANS born and living in US territories, relegating 3.6 million people to less than second class status. In these territories, black and brown bodies cannot vote for nor run for president, but we can fight the wars we didn’t sign up for. 3.6 million people in these territories do not have equal access to food and insurance. And the people of American Samoa are not even considered citizens, although they have the highest military enlistment rate of all the territories.
I do not expect a viral uprising over this. The reality is that the black and brown bodies of the US colonies only matter when the numbers need to be higher. These bodies only matter when folks are traveling and want to seem interested in the people but are only there for the beaches and being $h**y humans to people they consider less than. Our disenfranchised bodies only matter when you need to get away. The problem is, our black and brown bodies bear the weight of colonial disenfranchisement at the hands of superpower, AND we bear the weight of systemic and historical racism at the same hands too.
As history has so cringingly shown us, this fight may be our own to carry. I will end with this. Freedom on Juneteenth came from a long and hard campaign, a small win. The Juneteenth holiday is a small win in a long history of tragedy against black and brown bodies. The US celebrates the small wins of the confederate and recognizes the leaders of those who lost the war, yet the war's actual victory is not celebrated. We are still trying to make it to the freedom that our ancestors fought for. We are still fighting to be treated equitably and equally under the Constitution. We need H.R 55- Emmett Till Antilynching Act and H.R1280-George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021 to pass in Congress, YESTERDAY! Admittedly, I die a little inside when I think about how little my Caribbean-American blackness is valued in a land that told me is full of promise.
I guess that’s why my folks say, “a promise is a comfort to a fool.”