Hyphen Life: Juneteenth

About two weeks ago I decided to take a break from educating the folks around me. I found myself in this dark pit of obligation. I’d convinced myself that it was my responsibility as a Black woman to make sure that the extent of what is happening in America (now worldwide) and what has happened for centuries was understood by my non-Black counterparts. Then, I woke up one morning, looked over at my King, wiped the tears from my cheeks, and decided to stop. I was tired. I was tired of bearing the weight of the big Black elephant in every multi-cultural room. I was tired of the memorized, “I’m on your team” speeches and pats on the back. I was tired of the piercing silence from people who were too afraid to say anything. I was tired of trying to find the balance between not saying enough and saying too much. I was tired of the, “but we have tribalism here and that’s just as bad…” talks with my Nigerian peers. I was tired. Being Black is not being African, nor is it being American, it is being hyphenated. That hyphen cuts and truly, I haven’t quite found the words to describe the depth of its pain. So, this is me pleading for you to STOP if you need to stop. Trying to convince people of something they refuse to believe can be exhausting. We need you-all of you-mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. Don’t lose yourself in the fight to be seen by the selective blind. I see you.

You more than matter.

You are a necessity and a gift.

You are light.

You bring wisdom and power.

Take care of yourself. They can learn on their own. They can do their own research. They can find articles, books, videos, and other resources. But you, YOU need rest and that’s okay. Take time.

June 19th, 1865 will likely be on everyone’s timeline today and I love it. The Black Lives Matter movement is forcing society to learn, or avoid, very biting truths about the foundations on which America was born. Consider this the end of my break from educating in this arena.

*adjusts glasses*

You can find in most American history books that the Emancipation Proclamation was made effective in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln. Unfortunately, that proclamation did not reach all of the African men and women who were stolen, purchased, and forced upon American, formerly Indigenous peoples’, soil. It wasn’t until about 2 years later, that the message made its way down to Texas by way of Union soldiers. Then, they alongside the other 250,000 Black (formerly African) people, were officially declared “free.” The celebrations began. The joy boiled over. They felt like they finally belonged. Let’s take note of the fact that this was only 155 years ago… ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-FIVE YEARS. So much and so little has happened in that time.

I remember telling my boyfriend, now husband, about Juneteenth on this day last year. He harmlessly chuckled. I felt embarrassed, then proud, then angry, then sad. My emotions were all over the place and in a matter of seconds I was in tears. If you don’t follow my website, you may not know that my husband is Nigerian, so we are often given opportunities to learn the differences in our cultures. I proceeded to teach him, in detail, why this day mattered. His response was, “So, America has two Independence days? One for Black people and one for White people???” He honestly couldn’t make sense of it at first. It sounded ridiculous at the time, but, I’ve accepted the fact that when a nation is built on foundations that include genocide, theft, and enslavement, its independence won’t make sense to most people. It may even be humorous; laughable; a joke. Our conversation went on and we ended on a sweet note of knowledge and acceptance but that won’t always be the case with others. I love Juneteenth. I can’t wait to celebrate it with my family. Not only because of the freedom it represents, but because it is a constant reminder that this world is not my home. This nation is not my nation. I am a sojourner. I was not made to fit in. I was made to serve. Heaven awaits, and when I get there, I will belong.

Thank you for reading.

I love you.

Featured image by Benjamin Lambert on Unsplash

One Comment on “Hyphen Life: Juneteenth

  1. Love this glimpse into what we look like from the outside.

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