3 Comments on Juneteenth

Happy Juneteenth, Gentle Readers all.

A hundred and forty years ago yesterday, a man could assault, torture and even kill another man with impunity, as long as the fellow he killed was sufficiently dark-skinned, and as long as the light-skinned fellow paid for the privilege beforehand. And a hundred and forty years ago today, that was no longer the law in this country. Although this is a matter of some pride, it is and should be also a matter of some shame.

The US Constitution is a living and changing document, thank the Lord. And may I add in a paraphrase: If the Lord wills that racial suspicion and hostility in this country continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the gun, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.” Actually, we’ve been lucky.

chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek,

3 thoughts on “Juneteenth

  1. Michael

    I’ve been thinking about how long 140 years is. Clearly not long enough to level the playing field (it’s so hard to find a landscape contractor these days for a front yard, let alone for a metaphor), but long enough that I hope God could forgive the present generation. And yet.

    35 years ago there were race riots in my high school. 10 years ago I caught a glimpse of a level of black poverty in Louisiana that surpasses my comprehension and that I cannot forget. These are not 140 years ago in degree, but neither are they 140 years ago in time. And tomorrow we will still do nothing to address the racial imbalances in housing, and hiring, and medical care. Nothing to fix our educational systems or our lending policies. Nothing to ensure minority enfrancisement, or minority representation, or a respected minority voice in our national halls of power, whether those halls are public or private. There is our national shame, and our national failing, and I hope our eventual national climb toward justice and peace.

  2. Vardibidian

    Well said. I’ll add, though, that the America I feel rather patriotic about is not an America that rests on its achievements, but an America that sets its ideals so high that it takes centuries to live up to them. And then tries like hell.
    I admit that there are times, and plenty of them, that it seems like the national climb toward justice and peace is stalled. But it’s a long climb, and we’ve already come a long way. And, as you put it, it’s not a climb to justice and peace, but a climb toward justice and peace. There’s not going to be a finish line, where we all join hands and sing kumbaya. There’s not even going to be a point after which we can stop and say “close enough”. America is about the climbing.
    Or so I say.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.