Earl Smith, PhD — Angela J. Hattery, PhD
The Emancipation Proclamation of September 22, 1862 became official January 1, 1863 thus ending chattel slavery.
Slave owners could have cared less.
Many moved to Texas to avoid the freedom extended to Black chattel slaves.
Juneteenth takes place on the 19th day of June in 1865.
The 13th Amendment isn’t ratified until December 6, 1865.
This is important.
Lee Corso says “Not So Fast” every Saturday on GameDay, during the college football season. This is important when talking about Juneteenth. “Not So Fast.”
We need to remember this with all the “Juneteenth” celebrations that took place across the past few weeks and especially by corporate America. This includes, but is not limited to, including NETFLIX; Amazon, Pepsi and their “Aunt Jemima” brand of pancake mix; Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Mrs. Butterworth brand of syrup owned by ConAgra Foods.; also add here a lot of universities and pro sports teams; UCONN; National Hockey League; Nike; etc.
It is as if with the murder of George Floyd, America has waken up and realized that there are “BLACK PEOPLE” here in America!!
But………..slavery did not end with Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, as Professor W.E.B., Du Bois states in his doctoral dissertation (The Suppression of the African Slave Trade to the United States of America 1638-1870) especially noting that the trade in slaves ran well into the 1870s. Ports in places like Seattle and in New England were using slave labor well into the 1880s.
The COMMERCIALIZATION of JUNETEENTH is, actually, sad. There was then, and even now, not much to celebrate for African Americans. Data shows us on all metrics Blacks are disproportionately represented at the bottom. For example:
wealth – white families have ten (10) times more wealth than Black families (Note: whites in same SES bracket have more wealth than Blacks in the same SES bracket)
health – Black Americans are also almost twice as likely as white Americans to lack health insurance
criminal justice – Black men are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white men
employment – Not only do Black people have a higher unemployment rate than average, they are often left out of high-paying jobs
housing – Black Americans are less likely to own a home than other racial and ethnic groups
political representation – In the all important US Senate there are now three (3) Black Senators (if there were equity there would be 14)
education – Black children lag behind white children on all measures of education, including, but not limited to: Black girls receive more severe penalties for the same behavior as white peers. They are also 6 times more likely to get out-of-school suspensions.
JUNETEENTH then is important but cannot be used to again exploit the Black population in ways that do nothing for the social, economic and political lives of Black people
On JUNETEENTH of 2020 the so-called stimulus package did not reach Black businesses. The current COVID-19 virus is ravaging the Black community in both cases and deaths.
Let us continue to fight these aforementioned injustices and not be fooled by all the jumping, dancing and singing that should be reserved for true emancipation, why? Because,
BLACK LIVES MATTER
Earl Smith is Rubin Distinguished Professor of American Ethnic Studies & Sociology, Emeritus at Wake Forest University.
Angela J. Hattery is Professor of Women and Gender Studies and co-Director of the Center for the Study and Prevention of Gender Based Violence at the University of Delaware.
A most recent book is: Policing Black Bodies: How Black Lives are Surveilled and How to Work for Change.