Memorial Day 2021 is occurring during a very eventful time in the history of America. Memorial Day (previously, but now seldom, called Decoration Day) is a federal holiday in the United States designed for honoring and mourning military personnel who have died in the performance of their military duties while serving in the United States Armed Forces. The holiday is observed on the last Monday of May.
The holiday was formerly observed on May 30 from 1868 to 1970. (Wikipedia) In recent years, it has come to represent the onset of Summer and time spent outdoors at cookout events with family and friends.
Lately, a new meme has been floating around in the Black community that is used as a sort of punishment tool targeting Black people who have divergent, or unpopular, opinions. Basically, they become “uninvited” to the “cookouts” that take place on holidays.
Admittedly, Memorial Day does not have the same “cookout” appeal that some other holidays may have, but it ranks up there because it is a time when Black people get together. In this regard, the cookout becomes a metaphor for those who belong to the family, i.e., the Black community.
On another tip, Memorial Day is especially fitting as a holiday pertinent to Black people when you think of the large numbers of Black people who have lost their lives to Black-on-Black violence, police murder, COVID-19, and various other problems. Anecdotally, it seems as though the number of fatalities among Black people is increasing. So Memorial Day 2021 can have significant meaning for remembering those who have lost their lives during these difficult times.
Going back to the original purpose of the holiday, the idea was to honor those who lost their lives in military combat. Black people in particular have experienced hefty losses, and this is in spite of being treated shabbily at home once their military service was completed. In fact, during World War II there was a double “V” movement initiated representing a quest for victory in war AND victory at home.
Here we are years later, and Black people are still fighting for that victory at home, which seems to be as elusive as ever.
African Americans have fought in every war since the beginning of this country. This includes the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the War in Afghanistan, and the Iraq War, among others.
Yet even though this has been the case, reciprocity has eluded Black people.
In fact, if truth be told, there seems to be an escalating war upon Black people waged by rogue police and far right-wing Republican political strategists today. In fact, policies are being put in place to take away voting rights from Black people in a number of states.
With this said, Black people are currently at war at home. In a society dominated by the wealthy, Black people have been particularly vulnerable to violence that trickles down from on high. Economic violence is particularly virulent.
That last point is crucial because it can, an IS resulting in additional casualties experienced by African Americans. Moreover, it is particularly frightening to see the seemingly wanton escalation of the murder of Blacks by the police. Police murders of unarmed Black people continue, seemingly unabated.
Now, since it seems that Blacks are in a quasi-war in the United States today, it might be fitting and appropriate that those who have lost their lives in the Great American Skirmish with the Police might be high on the list of commemoration activities during this Memorial Day season. This would include all of those killed by the police in recent years. We must keep them in our hearts and minds; we must not forget them.
Regarding the “metaphorical cookouts,” we must try as much as possible to embrace our wayward brethren and sistren who are not conscious of the part they need to play in Black liberation. As the saying goes, keep your friends close, but keep your enemies even closer.
A race cannot be conquered if it is not divided! Hopefully the Black divergents will eventually change their ways of thinking because we need them; there is strength in numbers. A Luta Continua.