Reconcile your sins
Make Juneteenth an official holiday
April 19, 2017
Filed under Opinion
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Many black Americans celebrate Juneteenth, which commemorates slave emancipation. Why should this simply be a black holiday? America should celebrate it formally.
Emancipating the slaves has to be seen as one of the most significant events of our founding. It is the beginning of the ongoing effort in American history to make democracy, equality and civil rights apply to all.
Referred to as America’s original sin, slavery lasted for more than two centuries. It is the most expansive international crime against humanity in modern history.
Celebrating the Emancipation should be considered as an American Day of Reconciliation. Observing this event could serve as a symbol that allows Americans to regret, reconcile, or make amends for past behavior and mistakes.
By preserving this idea in the form of a holiday, celebrating the end of slavery would be a powerful message to the world and would serve society well through establishing a tradition of reconciliation in America.
We have been socialized to be unapologetic about so much. Manifest Destiny sounds similar to what Isis is today, yet we have never apologized to Mexico. We refuse to consider reparations for slavery even though the practice is responsible for America’s emergence as an economic superpower surpassing Europe and the rest of the world.
Slavery created unprecedented wealth for many, while leaving former slaves in poverty. Most of the disparity in wealth existing between blacks and whites today is directly related to slavery and Jim Crow.
Despite the brutalization that took place for over two hundred years, we do not show regret. In the context of today, the unexplainable need President Trump has of America needing to “win” is the result of our indoctrination. Winning at all costs appears to be a large part of our culture.
American Exceptionality is asserted by many to justify our leadership in the world. However, Americans lack the moral compass to hold us accountable for past misdeeds that violate international law and modern standards of values with regard to the United Nations.
Other nations have embraced the idea of reconciliation. Most notably, West Germany has had a process in place since the 1950’s providing financial reparations to Israel and direct financial compensation to Holocaust survivors. Likewise, it has established reconciliation programs with France.
South Africa has established a holiday marking December 16th as the nation’s Day of Reconciliation. The day is an important symbol to the unity of the South African people commemorating the battle between the white Voortrekkers and the Zulu nation in 1838.
The day also marked the formulation of the military wing of the African National Congress in 1961 to fight Apartheid. Today, the holiday is meant as a unification of blacks and whites in Post Apartheid South Africa.
If this idea is translated to the context of America, a formal observing of past mistakes could serve society in a positive way.