This Juneteenth, Kingsley Gobourne, Chief Equity and Engagement Officer, writes about the holiday’s history and what that means as we move forward at GHC-SCW.
BY KINGSLEY GOBOURNE, CHIEF EQUITY AND ENGAGEMENT OFFICER
On June 19th, 1865, slaves in Galveston, Texas were informed that the war had ended and that they were now free. We also know that, regardless of the law, free for Blacks did not mean the same thing as free for Whites. From lynchings to Jim Crow to earning our right to vote and mass incarceration, slavery and all its mutations continue to wreak havoc on the Black community to this day. Violent and outright racist actions are still reasoned away, forgotten about, or even worse, never even noticed by well-meaning White individuals. However, those of us on the Black spectrum, from light-skinned to dark, know these atrocities on both a visceral and everyday level. Being Black in America, you are regularly reminded of your second-class citizenship through microaggressions, institutionalized racism and outright racism.
What so many White people take for granted, us Blacks don’t have the luxury of forgetting. Our freedom is one traffic stop, angry outburst, unjustified 911 call, fight, self-defense action, sundown town, wrong suspect etc. away from being taken. As a Black person in America, you walk the line of free or not free, everyday! Free until freedom is taken away. Slavery by another name: Inmate. So, while the original Juneteenth was over 150 years ago, we celebrate and rejoice in the semi-freedom we do have.
We honor our history, our struggles and sacrifices, knowing that our freedom is fluid, precious and to be protected. We remember the courage, faith, resilience and blood that paid for our freedom. We celebrate our survival and ability to thrive regardless of the visible and invisible chains that remain. We take solace in the knowledge that so much work remains to be done, but we don’t have to do it alone.
This year we ask all members of GHC to be BOLD when dealing with diversity, equity and inclusion. B-Belief that a better world can exist, and we can help to create it. O-Owning the moment. This is our chance as Black employees to share a tiny glimpse of our story. L-Lean in. It’s time to lean in closer when you feel yourself pulling away. Take that as a sign that you are doing something you’ve never done before. It’s natural to feel discomfort, but that does not mean stop. D-Deliver. We say as an organization that we want diversity, equity and inclusion. Here is a chance for us to stop talking and start walking! Our collective joy is an act of resistance and transformation. Show up and show us that you care.