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Vital Policy Change Needed/ For Homage and Celebration

Congress Needs To Pass Policy Not Just Holidays to Make Good on Juneteenth's Promise

Just yesterday, we celebrated Juneteenth, commemorating the day in 1865 when Union forces finally retook Galveston TX, bringing with them enforcement of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Like many holidays pertaining to America’s struggle with its original sin, Juneteenth’s history and legacy are more complicated than the current, mainstream celebration recognizes. While it is certainly true that the Jubilee of Juneteenth marks a new chapter for African Americans in Texas, and perhaps America at large, it was neither as clean, nor as clear of a transition from bondage to freedom as we’d like to claim. As ever in the US, the promise of freedom and justice for African Americans was accompanied by caveats and loopholes from the beginning, written into both Order #3 and the 13th Amendment itself. From this tenuous beginning, we all know the bigoted and bitter backlash of the defeated Southern states were successful in turning back the clock on these hard-fought freedoms, overthrowing Reconstruction and implementing decades more of terror and suppression. The scars and cultural trauma of these are still observable to the present day. All this to say, that while the celebration and commemoration of Juneteenth is important, as Dr. Rashad Richey has said, "we did not elect Representatives to create federal holidays, we elected them to pass meaningful policy!" The very same Congress that voted to created Juneteenth as a federal holiday voted against Medicare for All, raising the minimum wage, decriminalizing cannabis, reparations, investing in infrastructure and housing, and on and on. All of these policies are both wildly popular and would have profound impacts improving the lives of our most vulnerable members of society, which due to the enduring legacies of bigotry threaded throughout this nation’s systems, are disproportionately black and brown people. Going forward, Juneteenth needs to serve not just as a celebration for the progress we’ve made as a nation, but a clarion call to action, to make good on the as-yet unfulfilled promises of justice, equality and freedom promised so many times in our country’s past. There are many reasons these promises have remained elusive, from the cultural to religious, but one we often overlook are the economic drivers. The exploitation of black and brown bodies for cheap labor has been, and frankly continues to be, a major driver of America’s economic growth: From the early days of explicit chattel slavery, to the ongoing practice of using prisoners as neo-slave labor, there has always been a small, but powerful contingent of our nation deeply invested in maintaining this abusive social hierarchy. Winning this fight will take not just cultural and political power, but the economic might to stand-up to these powerful oligarchs. Without an economic cudgel, our cries for justice will forever go unheard and unanswered by those who readily trade human suffering for money and power. So, join us each Tuesday in our growing movement, fighting for justice and equality, no matter how long it takes! #DSOT #UPM

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