By Wanda “Sistah Soldier” Petty, President & CEO
For the first time, more Americans became aware of a nationally known day that most African Americans have celebrated for years. On Friday, June 19, 2020, the Internet became flooded with content informing the nation why Juneteenth was significant for the first time. Juneteenth is often identified as “Liberation Day” or “Freedom Day.” Many people were in shock to discover the details of the proclamation read on the shores of Galveston, Texas, [in 1865] to free the slaves.
After it was all said and done, it was evident that although slaves received passage of freedom in writing, the feeling of being free has been a mere hope for almost two hundred years for Black descendants. It felt as if we were hearing it for the first time, and needed to spread it as quickly as possible to ensure others were aware of the news. It justified the “Black Lives Matter” movement and a need for citizens to stand up more robust than ever to ensure its execution. As I reflected on the current state of the world since the death of George Floyd (and several others whose lives ended due to police brutality within the last twenty years), many people wonder why it required such a movement to get our point across?
It’s been almost 200 years, and Blacks are still fighting for the right to have the pursuit of happiness, and the liberty promised to all. The only answer I could conclude was, “people don’t like change!” Think about it, when someone has a good thing going for them, they’re not always willing to release it if things are working in their favor. Regardless if it’s a one-sided deal, the individual who has the better hand will more-likely apply resistance if their position became threatened. When that happens, it can be challenging to transform their way of thinking. The opposite of this scenario is, the same thing is happening for the person who does not have the upper hand, but they’re more likely to become afraid to exercise their liberty due to fear.
We see it in ordinary situations, i.e., abusive relationships. One spouse will dominate the finances because he/she earns the majority of the household income. The non-working spouse becomes intimidated and afraid of leaving due to fear of not surviving. Then, there’s the work environment where the supervisor threatens to fire their low-income employees occupying dead-end jobs. Lastly, there’s the case of someone like a con artist who has privy information on another individual who could face severe consequences if the truth is exposed. These are only a few examples of how control factors can play out in one’s life. Fear of not having support can stunt the progress for someone who’s had a form of support system (even if the support wasn’t a positive influence).
Unless we educate our minds about our behaviors, the probability of continuous systemic responses will remain cyclical. The only way to reverse this prognosis is to realize that every man, woman, or child has the right to experience the freedom of speech and express their feelings without being confined. Emotions from all categories need to have an expression. However, as a society, the only way things will shift is if we can identify inherited learned behaviors from past generations. It’s time to release the feelings and ignorance from those who refuse to change and realize change will happen whether we agree or not. Agree to disagree. Nothing stays the same, and the more resistance to change, the harder it is to accept when we recognize that change is a good thing. No matter how bad the outcome, something good always evolves even if it doesn’t look like it or feel like it. Positive identifiers are in the worst of situations.
I believe that this year, the true meaning of Juneteenth was revealed and honored in the manner [in which] many have died to highlight. It’s revived a true reflection of what it means for the African American community to continue pursuing our right for equality across the world. We must remember our roots, and we must seek happiness with unity and God’s love as the foundation despite how we feel.
Ask yourself, “what are some of the inherited beliefs you possess, and how can you begin to shift your mindset?” Regardless of your race, how can you allow others to have a choice to live the same liberated lifestyle you desire? Don’t hold yourself hostage by an ancient theory or mindset that isn’t compassionate or resonates with human kindness. Don’t always want to be in control of situations that are uncontrollable or that no longer fit for a 20th-century lifestyle. It’s time for equality, and each one of us is responsible for our part and the role we contribute because we’re writing history. There’s a new story about justice in the process of being written, and many versions transcribed. How will your chapter read?
Sistah Soldier is an inspirational leader who helps veterans, women, and minorities step into God’s call for their lives using their creative skills. She’s the CEO, Host, and Executive Producer of SHE VET iNSPIRES Television Show and the Executive Recruiter for SHE MediaTech™.