Today is Juneteenth, the anniversary of the date when slaves in Texas were finally notified of their freedom, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Today we celebrate freedom, but we should also take this day to meditate on what freedom really means, when our society has never treated Black people in a fair and equal way, and systemic racism causes inequities in every aspect of society.
Is it freedom when Black families have 1/10 the wealth of white families? Is it freedom when environmental and healthcare inequities mean that Black people are disproportionately affected by asthma, heart disease, maternal mortality, and diabetes, and have lower life expectancy? Is it freedom when Black people are disproportionately impacted by mass incarceration, or when one in a thousand Black men are likely to be killed by police? Is it freedom when there is a racial education gap, and HBCUs are historically underfunded?
For all of these reasons and more, I commit to rooting out systemic racism with my votes and with my actions, until the day we can celebrate a Juneteenth when all people are truly free.