6/22/2020 0 Comments
One More Thing About Juneteenth...
Alright, I've got one more thing to say about Juneteenth. And this one goes out to all of the American businesses and particularly the American theatres.
I want you to think about something:
Would you post a generic ad for a class that'll happen in March on Christmas Day with no mention of the holiday?
Would you send out a run-of-the-mill e-blast about an upcoming sale that has nothing to do with Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November?
Would you post an ad for your winter show on July 4th rather than some square filled with fireworks and flags?
Of course you wouldn't. It'd be downright ridiculous! How could you let these holidays be just another ordinary day? How short-sighted would you have to be to do something like that? Golly, Mr. Wilson, that's just bad advertising!
And yet you're absolutely fine with doing any one of those things on Juneteenth without a single mention of the holiday or what it celebrates?
Christmas is alienating; it's a Christian holiday, and while many agnostic and non-practicing Christian families in the US celebrate it anyway, it excludes Jews, Muslims, Atheists, and a spectacularly wide range of people.
Thanksgiving celebrates the Native Americans welcoming the Pilgrims to the "New World," after which those same Pilgrims promptly stole and pillaged the land, called it their own, and enacted an unending and horrific genocide, the repercussions and results (and actions) of which are still being felt (and performed) today.
And the Fourth of July has become, at best, a parody of itself; more accurately, a celebration of backward thinking and historical revisionism and reductionism.
But you know what holiday is not exclusive or exclusionary? Juneteenth.
Homies, IT IS NOT POLITICAL. It is about America making a vital step toward getting its collective head out of its racist ass and, two years late, finally getting the news out that Black people who had been enslaved by white men (sic.) for the entire lifespan of this country were no longer to be treated as property.
It is a celebration of moving this country-built-by-enslaved-people one step further toward walking the talk of "all [people] are created equal."
It is not a political statement to mark the occasion.
Because recognizing peoples' human rights is not political.
And if you genuinely believe that it is, you've got a hell of a lot more work to do on yourself.
It is, however, an exclusionary religious statement to mark Christmas.
It's also problematic at best, blatantly racist at worst, to mark Thanksgiving.
And it's sure as hell screwed up to fire off your Fourth of July fanfare while doing absolutely nothing to recognize and rectify the atrocious wrongs that have been inflicted upon Black – and BIPOC – people by this country since Plymouth Fucking Rock.
So, to each and every one of you businesses – and in particular to you theatres – who let this Juneteenth go either entirely unmarked, or worse, sent out some general, self-celebratory advertisement, you have no excuse.
You. Need. To. Do. Better.
Now, look, I'm not saying I've been an active advocate of celebrating Juneteenth for my entire life. Hell, if I'm honest here, I only found out about it a couple of years ago (which I have a lot of guilt about, even though I understand that the fault goes way deeper into the systemically racist educational system I grew up in).
But of all years... OF ALL YEARS... For you to either ignore or dismiss Juneteenth this year? There is just no excuse.
So, if you're reading this, and that was you: you are part of the problem.
Again: YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.
And, while we're here, if you're a company, business, or theatre I've worked with, and you fit this category (I mean, shit, even if you don't, this is probably still true, but for sure if you do fit into this description), then guess what:
I HAVE PERSONALLY EXPERIENCED RACISM AND PREJUDICE WHILE WORKING FOR YOU.
That's not a "probably." That's a bona fide, Men's Warehouse "You're gonna like the way you look, I guarantee it" guarantee. There is not one place I've ever worked where I didn't feel like I was singled out, shamed, dismissed, or blatantly belittled as a result of my Mexican roots. And I have never once worked in a place where – when I've brought up how inaccessible or offensive either the building, the atmosphere, the language, or the whole mentality of the company is for people with disabilities – I've been met with anything shy of derision.
So, yeah: you've been part of the problem.
And you're still part of the problem.
You just never noticed.
Because, from your place of privilege, you just simply didn't have to.
And whether I or anyone else has brought it to your attention, it's been happening.
And you just did it again.
So consider this your final warning. STOP. BEING. RACIST.
Do better, y'all. Now lace up your colonialist trousers, because your bigotry is showing.
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