June 19, 1865, represents the day the last enslaved Black people were officially released as property, but it also represents a long history of our nation's slowness to deliver on its promises, particularly to Black Americans.
The Emancipation Proclamation legally freed all the enslaved people in Confederate states two years prior to Juneteenth, yet 250,000 Black people remained in bondage, despite their legal right to freedom. That legacy lives on in our mass incarceration system, where Black men are six times as likely to be incarcerated than white men, and more than 400,000 people are held in correctional facilities without having been convicted or faced trial. Mass incarceration of Black people has also led directly to the wide disenfranchisement of Black voters.
We are not free. Juneteenth reminds me constantly that the work of freedom is incomplete when Black people so often lose their freedom or lose their lives as a matter of course in our police state.
June is also recognized as LGBTQ Pride Month. In June 2022, state legislators are using transgender children as kindling in the fire for their cruel culture wars. Children! White supremacist extremists are planning terroristic attacks at Pride celebrations. The Trump-stacked Supreme Court has made it clear that its sights are set on marriage equality, protection from discrimination, protection to build our families as we see fit, and more. Many of my fellow queers are afraid to publicly celebrate Pride this year.
People love a good parade with rainbows and flags and glitter, despite the fact that we are not free.