Happy Juneteenth

What a brilliantly simple illustration for an essay on whether the “b” in “black” should be capitalized. I appropriated it from The Atlantic.

I made Juneteenth very famous, as you know.

No, I didn’t. And neither did that other peckerwood.

I’m not big on holidays. They were nothing to look forward to in the newspaper biz. Whether it’s Arbor Day or Zoo Lovers Day, the paper must appear. And no matter what capitalist fantasies motivate the business decisions at Gannett and Alden Global Capital, a newspaper won’t publish itself. Yet.

Once you’ve eaten a few dozen “holiday” meals at your desk while decoding a school-board story written by a functional alcoholic the term “holiday” loses all meaning.

Most holidays are dubious, anyway. Christmas? Sorry, not one of mine. Thanksgiving? Is that the one where George Washington threw his wooden teeth across the Potomac and killed a turkey perched in a cherry tree? Fourth of July? That’s the “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” one, right? Except for, you know, those people.

Then there’s Juneteenth. LIke Independence Day, it commemorates a beginning, a first step on a long march to a battle that seems to have no ending.

Though the celebration has its roots in Texas, I don’t recall hearing about it when I was in school down there. Too busy teaching us about how John Wayne fought Communism at the Alamo, I guess.

We never heard anything about the 1921 Tulsa Massacre, either.

And so I suffered from ignorance, a condition with which I continue to struggle. It, too, is a long march. The trick is to keep putting one foot ahead of the other while keeping your eyes, ears, and mind open.

Here’s something I stumbled across along the path. It drew my attention because I’m an old newshound, a retired copy editor, and I love watching the language as it tries to evolve to meet the times. It’s an article in The Atlantic by Kwame Anthony Appiah, a professor of philosophy and law at New York University, and it’s titled “The Case for Capitalizing the ‘B’ in ‘Black.'”

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19 Responses to “Happy Juneteenth”

  1. Dale Says:

    I was glad to hear the the president’s rally was moved from Juneteenth for a number of reasons, none of which held water. His rescheduled campaign rally is held harmless (of course) from any repercussions relating that pesky virus that the president has forgotten about.

    From the campaign:
    Marc Lotter, the Trump campaign’s director of strategic communications, told the Guardian he would encourage those in “high risk categories” to watch the rally on television, but defended the president’s decision to hold a mass indoor rally during the pandemic, despite local health officials urging the campaign to reschedule.

    “I personally would encourage anyone who might find themselves to be in one of the high risk categories and encourage them not to come. Watch it on television, protect yourself, protect your family if someone in your direct family has those kinds of high risk factors,” Lotter said in an interview outside Tulsa’s 19,000 capacity BOK arena, where Trump is due to appear.

    So empathetic.

  2. Pat O'Brien Says:

    What pure and perfect bullshit the dumpster and his minions offer up.

  3. carl duellman Says:

    i remember my cousin talking about juneteenth from when i would spend the summer in deep southeast texas. we didn’t celebrate it and i don’t recall a parade but i doubt that town had parades for anything anyway. it wasn’t a thing in florida or ohio that i remember. we’re in the midst of pulling down a confederate statue from the main street here in town. the talk now is about moving it to a local cemetery where some confederate soldiers are buried. they should probably replace it with another statue but no one here deserves it. well, there are people here who deserve it i’m sure but they aren’t famous or even known. maybe just an empty pedestal with a plaque that reads ‘you know who you are’.

  4. SAO' Says:

    I don’t think that we as a species are equipped to solve this damn thing. Just too many moving parts. The Large Hadron Collider looks like a Strider bike in comparison to the complexity of global race relations.

    I’ve been reading about panpsychism lately, which seems like a total load of crap, except that that you can’t mathematically explain it away. My take is that consciousness is just a trick that evolution has played on us, to make us think that we’re thinking, so we’ll try harder to survive.

    But a side-effect is that most of what we think is nonsense.

  5. khal spencer Says:

    I never heard of Juneteenth in school, either. Nor the Tulsa massacre. It wasn’t till 11th Grade that I even had a teacher who started to pull the historical skeletons out of the closet in American History class and I guess he missed those two. It is admittedly a good size pile.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Yeah, massacres were something that happened to white folks. Generally “wild Indians” were involved. History gets written by the winning side.

      My high school was an experimental model and so things got a little real there from time to time, whenever I wasn’t too stoned to notice. A teacher showed the documentary “Night and Fog” in one of my large-group classes and that flat blew me away. It’s one thing to read about concentration camps and another to see them on the silver screen.

      Speaking of camps, we learned bupkis about the Nisei internment camps, and we even had one in Colorado.

  6. Shawn color blind in the Gorge Says:

    Regarding The Atlantic article, I like the idea of the use of “Black” with the big B. I utilize the method in my language when I place an importance on something irrelevant of the rules for proper grammar. I like using Mom or Mother for you know who. She’s been around long enough to earn the capital letter. So applying that logic to a group or individual whose ancestry came to this country in the worst possible means (the hull of a slave ship), is a respectful thing for me to do. BUT, I try to minimize the use of language that differentiates us by methods of skin color and so my use of “Black” in terms of a culture will be minimal. I try to describe individuals in a method that would apply to all of us. For example, I might describe a person by the clothing they are wearing: a man or woman in western attire; a woman in a floral dress or a well dressed man in a suit (a method by which I’m not normally described as). By applying this logic, I’m doing my portion of eliminating the color barrier that exists in society. I recall an article I read a while back regarding Chris Froome. In that article it was mentioned that he felt more comfortable in Kenya in a group of people of African descent, versus being around people in certain parts of Europe. I believe he is describing the color of transperency in this thinking – Look at the person and not the just the outer shell.

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