Juneteenth became an official federal holiday yesterday, the first since Martin Luther King Junior Day in 1983. The Senate passed the measure unanimously and the House overwhelmingly voted in favor of the bill commemorating the liberation of slaves in Texas in 1865. Fourteen Republicans voted against the bill, however, offering varying objections ranging from the new holiday will create confusion alongside July 4th to the holiday being “…more debunked critical race theory in action.”
This new national holiday offers a generational opportunity for all Americans to discuss systemic racism and accountability in America. But just one year after last year’s transformative protests, much of this country is showing itself to be unwilling to have those conversations.
For example, many recent and ongoing actions by Republicans seem to contradict the spirit of Juneteenth. While supporting the creation of the federal holiday, Republicans across the country are moving quickly to pass laws curtailing voting rights which disproportionately target voters of color, in particular Black voters. And Republican lawmakers are rallying around bills that ban critical race theory from schools and how teachers discuss American history. Currently six states, including Texas ironically, birthplace of Juneteenth, have signed these bills into law. There can be no honest reckoning about our history when there is resistance to providing a more accurate education about our country’s past. And how do you explain Juneteenth in the absence of critical race theory?
Celebrating Juneteenth does not atone for slavery, but it is a way of acknowledging the possibilities for redemption. Unfortunately, it is undermined by the simultaneous attack on teaching critical race theory and our enduring legacy of slavery.
But this is just another example of the overall modus operandi of Trumpian Republicans…do something symbolic on one hand while doing something more underhanded at the same time that harms our democracy. And Juneteenth wasn’t the sole example this week.
On Tuesday, 21 Republicans voted against giving the Congressional Medal to the police who defended the Capitol during the January 6th insurrection. And of those 21 who voted no, 12 have signs on their offices thanking the police! Many of those who objected did so because they do not believe the legislation should refer to January 6 as an insurrection.
But if January 6th wasn’t an insurrection, then why did Republicans vote against a bipartisan commission to investigate its origins and why is the GOP’s retconning of January 6th intensifying? They’ve moved the narrative from “normal tourists” and “peaceful protests” to now embracing Tucker Carlson’s deranged conspiracy theory that the FBI may have orchestrated January 6th and that the “unindicted co-conspirators” mentioned in government documents are actually FBI operatives. By Carlson’s logic, the government is trying to overthrow the government!
There is little time left to disarm the GOP’s targeted attacks on sanity, logic, and our democracy. We must take these opportunities of Juneteenth and January 6th to reflect honestly on the type of country that we are and that we want to become. As uncomfortable as it may be, it’s the only way we will move forward as individuals and as a country. We must commit to thinking about how we can change things for the better rather than substituting symbolic platitudes for meaningful work, for this is the way we rid ourselves of the darkness upon us once and for all.
JOIN Barb and John as they discuss Juneteenth.
Author, columnist, former radio host, and business executive Dr. Janice S. Ellis, Ph.D., joins the show in the second hour to discuss her book, From Liberty to Magnolia: In Search of the American Dream.
“Am I black and then woman or Am I woman and then black?” asks Dr. Janice S. Ellis in her provocative new book, From Liberty to Magnolia: In Search of the American Dream.
“I have lived the chicken–egg conundrum. Which comes first? Am I black and then woman? Am I woman and then black? I have walked into many rooms, in many situations, filled with white people and wondered what they saw first.”
Janice will share her own personal pilgrimage of growing up African-American and female during the tumultuous 60s and 70s. She’ll also discuss the enduring scourge of racism and sexism in America while simultaneously offering an equally compelling and powerful tale of hope.
What better time than now to examine how these two seminal and defining events played out in the life of an ordinary African-American woman who believed in all of America’s promises? What better moment than today to look deeply at the life of a woman who prepared herself and worked tirelessly to achieve her goals only to realize that many still lay beyond her reach and that of most women and most blacks?
From Liberty to Magnolia: In Search of the American Dream is a true, powerful, and compelling story about the enduring scourge of racism and sexism in America. It is a personal account of how that bane of evil plays out in the lives of blacks and women despite the great promise of the American Dream being available to and achievable by everyone. It shows how, more often than not, access to the playing field and the rules of the game are not equally and fairly applied among men and women, blacks and whites, even when they come prepared with equal or better qualifications and value sets to play the game.
From Liberty to Magnolia: In Search of the American Dream is written for Americans from all walks of life who care deeply about how our great nation can become even greater if we boldly and courageously face our internal, crippling, and unnecessary fear–the fear that we stand to lose rather than gain by embracing and extending mutual respect and supporting equal rights and equal opportunity for our fellow citizens regardless of their race or gender.
From Liberty to Magnolia is a beacon for all who are concerned about America’s future and who want America’s children of all colors to realize their full potential. It will inform the racists and non-racists, the sexists and non-sexists. It will inspire and empower men and women who are in positions to make a difference to have the will to do so–parents, teachers, policy makers, social and human rights activists, journalists, business leaders, faith leaders, and many others. Caring Americans, working together, can break the chains of racism and sexism that keep America bound.
Janice Ellis, Ph.D, has been an executive throughout her career, first in government, then in a large pharmaceutical company, later as President and CEO of her own marketing firm, and finally as President and CEO of a bi-state non-profit child advocacy agency. Along with those positions, she has been writing columns for four decades on race, politics, education, and other social issues which have appeared in a major metropolitan daily newspaper, The Kansas City Star; a major metropolitan business journal, The Milwaukee Business Journal; and for community newspapers The Milwaukee Courier, The Kansas City Globe, and The Kansas City Call. She began her career writing and delivering radio commentary for two years for one of the largest ABC radio affiliates in Wisconsin. Later in her career she wrote and delivered a two-minute spot on the two largest Arbitron-rated radio stations in the Greater Kansas City area. She has also written for several national trade publications, focusing on healthcare and the pharmaceutical industry.
Dr. Ellis published an online magazine, USAonRace.com, for seven years dedicated to increasing understanding across race and ethnicity, in which she analyzed race and equality issues in America. The website continues to attract thousands of visitors per year. The site also has a vibrant Facebook page with fans numbering in the thousands. Five years ago, Dr. Ellis launched a companion site, RaceReport.com, which aggregates news about race relations, racism, and discrimination from across the United States and around the world daily.
Dr. Ellis is a native daughter of Mississippi. She grew up and came of age during the height of the Civil Rights Movement during the 1960s. Born and reared on a small cotton farm, she was influenced by two converging forces that would set the course of her life. The first was the fear and terror felt by blacks because of their seeking to exercise the right to vote along with other rights and privileges afforded to whites. The second was her love of books, the power of words, and her exposure to renowned columnists, Eric Sevareid and Walter Lippmann, whose work solidified her belief that the wise use of words is what advances the good society.
For more information, visit https://janicesellis.com.
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