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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Juneteenth



Juneteenth


I don’t know how reliable my memory is after the passing of just over four and a half decades and repeated head injuries. Nonetheless, I seem to recall the first time I was made aware of Juneteenth—a proclamation of freedom for slaves in Texas on June 19, 1865.


With my black family members mostly residing in the North Heights area of Amarillo, Texas, I was around four or five-years-old when my uncle took me to Bones Hooks Park for a Juneteenth celebration. I recall it was my uncle who escorted me, because my dad didn’t celebrate holidays.


My sisters and I were in the minority of white-appearing people at the park, though I don’t remember being treated differently than anyone else celebrating the day of freedom. In fact, what I remember most is being given a shoulder ride from my uncle and the smell of barbeque.


When in the Marine Corps, I was surprised to learn that people outside of Texas acknowledged Juneteenth—a name that combines the month and day, commemorated on June 19th of each year. Apparently, word traveled faster when I entered the Corps in the ‘90s than it did in 1865.


Taking a note from my dad’s playbook, I currently don’t celebrate holidays. All the same, I recognize how many people observe what is deemed “our country’s second independence day.”


Logic


On his 2017 album Everybody, lyricist Logic featured a song entitled “AfricAryaN,” addressing his biracial identity. Lyrics include:


Even though my daddy, you know he blacker than the street

With a fist to match, more solid than concrete

Tell white people I’m black, feel the need to retreat

Like I should be ashamed of my granddaddy Malik

But my beautiful black brothers and sisters

Want to act like I’m adopted

Go back in time to when my nigga daddy

Impregnated my cracker momma and stopped it


Addressing criticism of his song, the lyricist stated in a 2018 interview, “People try to tell me like that, ‘Oh, you shouldn’t be proud or you’re not this or you aren’t that’ or whatever the hell,’ […] I’m just kinda here to say, like, who is anybody else to tell me who I am or what I’ve gone through or what I haven’t gone through?”


Though I can’t speak about his experience, on some level I can comprehend Logic’s…well, logic concerning this topic. Similar to the lyricist, my late mom was white and my dad is black.




I, too, have been chided for embracing one of my racial identities over another, claiming ethnic preference when seeking educational and employment opportunities, and not advocating social justice for one race in comparison to another. Some people have a lot to say about biracial identity.


For some whites, I’m said to play a caricatured role when I “sound black” during conversations with other blacks. Regarding some blacks, I’m not black enough—socio-politically speaking, because I don’t support black activistic causes.


Whether I’m the “nigger” that one of my ex-girlfriend’s mom labeled me or I’m a “real nigga,” as bestowed upon me by a former black security police officer in Bomb City, I find that my racial identity isn’t the most interesting thing about me. After all, people will see whatever they choose to see when looking at me.


REBT


Regarding commentary I’ve historically received about my genetic attributes and socially-constructed racial composition, I used to become angry with what I told myself about the comments of other people. Using the inferred meaning of Logic’s interview response, I once may’ve said something like, “People shouldn’t tell me who I am or what I’ve gone through or what I haven’t gone through!”


Because of my irrational beliefs at that time, I’d become upset, feel tightness throughout my body, and pointlessly argue the merits of my position with individuals whose views I was unlikely to have changed. What a waste of time that was!


I now understand it didn’t matter that people held different perspectives than I, and that critiques of my race were merely opinions—not assaults on my character. People are free to believe whatever they want about my identity.


I am currently able to understand that what others say doesn’t result in how I feel or behave. Because I practice Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), I no longer disturb myself about what others suggest in regards to my biracial identity.


Concerning irrational beliefs, unreasonable demands which often take the form of should, must, or ought-type statements serve as self-disturbance fuel. People regularly should all over others with illogical, irrational, and inappropriate expectations—burring in anger from self-generated expectations.


As an example, some individuals maintain that black citizens of the United States (U.S.) should be entitled to reparations for slavery. Yet, not a single black person alive today was living in 1865—the year commemorated by Juneteenth celebrations.


I never was a slave and you aren’t my enemy


Though there is a case to be made as to whether or not military service constitutes indentured servitude, I never was a slave. Likely, nor were you.


I wasn’t freed on Juneteenth, nor am I entitled to reparations for chattel slavery to which I never was subjected. The same is almost indisputably true concerning you, dear reader.


To the unconvinced person who perhaps thinks, “I bet his ancestors weren’t even enslaved in the U.S., because they probably immigrated here in the early 1900s,” I appreciate your skepticism. For you, here’s a glimpse into my ancestry:





One wonders what could have brought my black ancestors to the U.S. in the early 1700s. It’s a mystery!


Per one source, “Though it is impossible to give accurate figures, some historians have estimated that 6 to 7 million enslaved people were imported to the New World during the 18th century alone, depriving the African continent of some of its healthiest and ablest men and women.”


Mystery solved. Even though an untold number of my ancestors were perceivably enslaved in the U.S., I never was a slave. Likewise, I hold no person or entity accountable today for something that happened to my forbearers hundreds of years ago.


Moreover, I wonder about those who celebrate the end of chattel slavery though who actively support a government that arguably has created a two-tiered system of justice, unequal social support network, and who praise disparate measures regarding whites and non-whites in the U.S. today.


How do so many people simply ignore how demonized white people currently are within our nation? Why is asserting such a thing—though observably apparent—unpopular when the evidence of inequality is before our very eyes?


How did we go from a nation of “Don’t tread on me” to “govern me harder, daddy”? All the while, as I write this post, one source reports, “At least 23 people were injured, one fatally, when gunfire erupted early Sunday at a Juneteenth celebration in suburban Chicago, authorities said.”


Dear reader, who do you suppose pulled the trigger? Perhaps it was some of those “domestic terrorists,” purportedly of the “white supremacy” variety, I’ve heard so much about from the current administration.


If you’re gullible enough to buy that nonsense, I have a foot-long sandwich to sell you in “MAGA country,” though you’ll have to wait for bomb cyclone weather conditions and bring your own bottle of bleach for the charade. Also, I’m fresh out of nooses, so bring your own.


Jokes aside, it’s my hope that the rational reader will see through the absurdity peddled by government actors and realize that the stoking of division from those in positions of power does little to serve people—be they black or white. We aren’t one another’s enemies.


Conclusion


For the photo at the beginning of this post, I’m wearing a hat representing the University of Texas at Austin—whereupon the campus is nicknamed the “Forty Acres,” which is the same amount of land promised to each freed slave following the Civil War.


As discussed herein, Texas is the state in which I was raised and home to the historical Juneteenth event. As a biracial person, perhaps some people may reason I should be gracious that my ancestors were perceivably set free.


Still, through practice of the REBT technique, I know better than to allow the shoulding of others to impact my beliefs and lead to self-disturbance. After all, I never was a slave and I can only live life in the here-and-now, moving forward.


Though it’s true that I’m said to have progenitors who were enslaved in the U.S., no white person alive today owes me anything for such an occurrence—nor do any of the black or Native American people who also actively participated in chattel slave ownership. We aren’t one another’s enemies.


Additionally, I don’t thoughtlessly misuse the relatively little time I have left in life celebrating a holiday that highlights one atrocity while turning a blind eye to violence largely perpetuated by one-third of my ancestral ties against its own people. To do so would be ludicrous.


Regardless of what lies are spread by the current administration about scary whities who are supposedly lurking behind every corner, ready to end the lives of non-whites in the U.S., I’m not nearly as concerned with the fictional boogeyman as some members of the government perhaps think I should be.



How about you, dear reader? What will you do tomorrow during Juneteenth? Will you hoist up a young child and attend a barbeque?


Will you revel in the notion that you never were, are not now, and hopefully will never be a slave? Will you stoke division by blaming others for the plight of your ancestors, even though no white person currently alive in the U.S. participated in chattel slavery of yesteryear?


Will you work yourself up into frenzied hysterics with irrational beliefs, shoulding all over yourself, others, and the world as a whole all because you haven’t achieved what you want from life? If you choose self-disturbance, I hope you have plenty of toilet paper for the should you expel from your mind.


However, for those of you who have grown weary by rigidly demanding from others that which you will never receive—nor should you—I offer hope in the form of emancipation from your devotion to should, must, and ought-type statements. Let’s get free!


If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.


As the world’s foremost old school hip hop REBT psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.


At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!



Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW



References:


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