Juneteenth marks national independence day to celebrate the emancipations of enslaved people in the areas who were in rebellion against the union. It was only a few days ago President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law. Today many Americans will be celebrating a holiday, rather than commemorating the end of slavery. They will be heading to the park, or the beach rather than fighting against racial inequality. A lot of Americans will be doing anything other than paying an ounce of thought towards the significance that Juneteenth holds. African Americans have been celebrating and commemorating Juneteenth long before Joe Biden turned it into a federal holiday. We must embrace black history, and educate ourselves on the United States legacy of racism, white supremacy and how these are still thriving in America today. 

I ask you this: What good is a federal holiday to celebrate ‘Freedom’ for, if incarcerated black men and women are continuously denied bail. What good is it for, if black men and women are stuck in pretrial detentions due to crime accusations, are with no convictions and are unable to make bail. If Juneteenth is supposed to celebrate the freedom of African Americans in the United States, why do we keep putting them behind bars for petty theft, and keeping them there despite changes in the law? Why do we keep incarcerating them without convicting them of any crime? Why do we keep murdering them? Because America is far from changing its ways. America’s systemic oppression of Black people lives on in many ways and especially through the phenomenon of overcriminalization. 

The criminal justice system is far from just. The mantle has been passed down from generation to generation and this mantle has grown bigger over time, it has helped its owners hide their true intentions, hide behind false claims to justice, freedom, and peace for all. The only difference between then and now, is that the mantle they used to wear wasn’t as flashy and deceiving, it wasn’t so big and didn’t hide the racism, injustice, and hate it seems to be hiding so well from so many naive and in denial Americans today. 

Attention needs to be brought to these injustices today of all days. If today is a federal holiday, then let’s use our free time to make a change. To keep the conversation going, to keep fighting for the rights of our fellow American Citizens. To shed light on a mass incarceration issue which is still present and damaging to the lives of hundreds of thousands of African Americans along with their affected families. 

Before you go ahead and make Juneteenth a federal holiday, why don’t you practice what you preach and free your African American citizen’s. The United States may not be practicing slavery anymore overtly, but it sure has found hundreds of ways to keep practicing it covertly. 

Ask yourselves: Why was it so easy for Joe Biden to enact a federal holiday for Juneteenth but it remains supposedly extremely “difficult” to even start talking about reforms, systemic racism, acknowledging white supremacy and disparity of treatment of minorities? Quit painting over your committed injustices with ‘Black Lives Matter’ and start amending those injustices so that you can proudly make Black Lives Matter!

Happy Juneteenth! To a microscopic first step in a very very very long Journey.

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