I always get a flush of embarrassment when Juneteenth rolls around.
I was a very young 20-something, buying radio & outdoor for Budweiser in Oklahoma and I had no idea that our 2nd biggest beer sale holiday was Juneteenth … because I did not know what Juneteenth was. Zero idea.
If this important date that occurred next door in Texas *was* in my school text books, I don’t remember it.
And so it was that I arrived at a 5:30am sales meeting, totally unprepared to help to support our extremely hard-working, truck driving, high-earning sales teams and, more importantly, their accounts, in preparation for PEAK sales season.
Not knowing … I felt more than foolish. I was embarrassed around my co-workers (all men) and I felt every inch the girl from the teeny tiny town, ignorant of the greater world around her.
If you think I didn’t start realizing the sheer tonnage of all I did not know, amp up my curiosity level, immediately start asking better questions and tuning up my earholes for new info, y’all are in for a surprise.
And listen, a LOT of what I learned was followed by some embarrassment mixed with a little guilt and a good dose of shame. Not always, but more than was comfortable. And that’s OK. The bad actions of people who look like me, my ignorance, my feelings of shame do not need to define me BUT they can be expansive. Hell it feels good to know enough to make better choices and allow more room for other people.
We should know about our past before we charge into our future. History is not always kind but we can always learn from it. And we need to continually update what it is that we are both teaching and learning. New information comes to light; context always matters; new voices are added to the mix. Ignoring inconvenient, painful, embarrassing truths erases nothing: those moments in time still exist.
And we must reckon with them so that the work for healing and justice continues. No one is free unless we all are.
So, back to the topic at hand: Juneteenth, Freedom Day … let’s keep it going!