VERY LITTLE, when it comes to American Black history. What little I do know is horrifying.
I’m currently reading “These Truths“ by Jill Lapore, an overview of American history from Columbus to the present. In it, I learned that the seeds of slavery and democracy were both planted in the colonies in the same year, 1619. The first slaves (kidnapped from Africa, then stolen at sea by pirates) were sold there just when the first gathering of the colonial governing bodies met to discuss increasing their democratic representation. That’s right. Slavery for you. Democracy for me.
Insanely illogical as it may seem, in America these polar opposites flourished together, like a double helix of depravity and inspiration, apparently inseparable yet grotesquely incompatible. It’s a story of moral madness, a damning testimony to the ease with which we humans see things as we want to see them and not as they really are.
That said, this weekend’s Juneteenth is a celebration of the first official step in freeing those slaves. One hundred and sixty years later, we are still not done; institutional racism remains rampant, cloaked by the long shadow cast by our founders; but let us join our African American brothers and sisters, celebrate our progress—slow, agonizing, cruel and violent as it has been—and then devote ourselves to bringing light to the darkness and finishing the job.
POSTSCRIPT: BODHI BILL COUCH CONCERT 2.0
PERHAPS a celebration of a different sort. A seven song set of stories based on people I’ve known—or known about.
Couch concert details:
- Friday, June 26, 2020
- 7 pm PDT start
- Bodhi Bill Miller channel on YouTube.com