Honoring Father’s Day & Juneteenth

It’s both Father’s Day and Juneteenth today. With my Dad, Grandpa, and Pop no longer physically with us, it’s tempting to avoid thinking about today as Father’s Day, recognizing the importance of honoring fathers, and avoid the emotions of sadness and grief that still linger ever so quietly in the background most days. I suspect they would all be proud of who I am and the ways they contributed to the woman I’ve become. I still miss them, especially at milestone moments when I’m particularly aware that they’re not physically present. There are still things I’d love to discuss with each of them, and to pick their brains about topics I’m studying or various thoughts I have. Even writing this post has me in my feelings – which I’ve decided is a good thing. The tender ache in my heart and wetness welling up in my eyes are reminders of the great love and times we’ve shared. These Black men were my father and grandfathers. They were wise, present, loving, resilient, and strong fathers, (far from the negative stereotypes of Black Fathers.)

Those fathers and father figures who are physically present include Stephen, my partner O, my uncles (OJ, Tony, Bobby, and Rob), my brothers (Derek, Sean, and Ryan), my cousins (Jon, Luke, and Rafiel), and bonus family/friends (Tommy, Doug, Donald, Dale, Ty…) – each are dedicated and amazing Black fathers. I couldn’t be any prouder of them nor appreciative of the honor of witnessing them in their fatherly glorly. In fact, every Black father I know has been present, committed, and incredible. Today I’m honored to recognize them. I hope they each know how phenomenal they are and feel appreciated.

As for Juneteenth, I have mixed feelings. The primarily private celebration among Black community members in the U.S., most noteably in Texas, has been about tradition and honoring the day the Black enslaved people in Texas learned of the emancipation of the enslaved. Even that was bittersweet. Now, as a Federal Holiday that is commercialized and isn’t likely utilized by non-marginalized and white-bodied individuals as an opportunity to educate themselves of the true systematic, historic, and persistent marginalization of Black-bodied individuals, let alone to actually dismantle systematic racism and oppression… no progress with reparations for Black people in this county… continued blatant acts of anti-black racism… [Insert a heap of explitives and a slow disgusted eye roll.] I’m gonna shift gears and bring this post home.

I’m clear in understanding that the healing of Black people worldwide is two-fold: 1) healing from what we’ve had to and continue to endure for multiple generations, and b) dismantling the systems that continue to uphold racism and oppression in any form. Our healing is our pathway to the increasing and complete freedom we truly deserve. There is a great unlearning required for each of us to undo the damage done to our psyches and to our bodies on a cellular level by the deep scaffolding of racism and oppression. On this Juneteenth, I am inspired to persist in my unlearning, healing, education, and activism in the name of freedom.

Futher reading for ya…

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