This past weekend was amazing with the celebration of Juneteenth and Father's Day!! Juneteenth is considered the longest-running African-American holiday and has been called “America's second Independence Day.” Traditional celebrations have often included public readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, singing traditional songs such as “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and my favorite, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” There have been celebrations that included rodeos, street fairs, cookouts, family reunions, park parties, historical reenactments, and Miss Juneteenth contests.
When President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law, Juneteenth became the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was adopted in 1983. The enactment of that holiday led to increased knowledge about Dr. King and I look forward to the knowledge and insight that will be gained about the Black community from this enactment.
African-Americans were enslaved for approximately 465 years in the United States of America. The impact of that is still a scar on this country. Enslavement and discriminatory policies against Black communities have caused criminal justice disparities, political disenfranchisement, issues with education, housing, health, as well as a wealth gap that seems to be widening. We don't pay enough attention to the fact that laws are passed in this country, designed to protect or support a group of people, and those people have no idea at all. Someone with insight about those laws, has to pass on that knowledge because the tens of thousands of African-Americans in Texas had no idea they had been emancipated from slavery for several years.
Father's Day is another reminder in the Black community about slavery’s impact. African-Americans tried desperately to locate lost family members after slavery. But the ravages of racism, economic issues, and the Preschool-to-Prison Pipeline have taken its toll over time. There are 329 million people in America today. The Black community only makes up 14% of the US population, but over 35% of the prison population.
This, along with several other factors, has created “Daddyless” daughters like me. The first relationship a little girl has with a man is the one she has with her father. That relationship, or lack of one, gives life to what and who that little girl will eventually become as a woman. Social scientists have long espoused the benefits for children who live in two-parent homes, including, educational, health, and other advantages. A disproportionate number of Black children under 18 live in single-parent homes, creating an unfortunate legacy that needs to stop. I don't know the solution that needs to take place to get fathers back into the home.
I do know that men can stand in the gap. I'm what some have called a “Village Baby.” I grew up in Washington, D.C. at a time when my community stood in the gap to make certain that I had what I needed to move through the adversity that I would face in my life.
I'm thankful for the men that stood up in my community. I have Uncles that don't share my blood, but they love me just the same. I have cousins that don't share my blood, but they love me just the same. I have a grandfather that does not share my blood, but he has poured love and confidence into my soul so I can stand as a Black Daddyless Female Engineer with confidence and assurance that I will persevere through whatever comes my way.
I hope Father's Day was amazing and Juneteenth was insightful!!