Juneteenth … an affirmation

Juneteenth or Juneteenth Independence Day or Freedom Day, remembers the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas in June 1865, and more generally the emancipation of African-American slaves throughout the Confederate South and more generally still emancipation of African Americans through the United States and more generally still the celebration of all victories against old and new Jim Crow, against crimes and cruelties, against unjust policing, against the small and large assumptions that Black Lives do not matter. I am white. I live in one of the five states that do not officially recognize Juneteenth. This is my affirmation.


I am privileged.

I talk too much
and I expect to be heard.
I pretend I am naturally tolerant,
compassionate and justice-seeking,
rather than admitting
I “fake it till I make it,”

I do not want to be responsible
for wrongs I have not personally done —

hate crimes of the past, of other places,
and especially anything
it is inconvenient to protest.

However I assume credit
for the good work of others,
and am casually entitled to the legacy
of any white people
of good faith.

I have learned to shut up,
and I expect to be praised for it.
But some of that admirably
quiet time
I am not listening
so much as planning
my next brilliant comment.

I am privileged.

I piously claim that I want others
to experience privileges,
but pray that I won’t need
to actually share any of mine.
And I fiercely protect
any privileges for my children
and my grandchild,

As if no one else
weeps and laughs for a child.

So …this is my Juneteenth affirmation

I am white. I am privileged.
I am learning to shut up,
to listen,
to be ignored,
to be wrong,
to be wrong when “meaning well”
doesn’t count at all.

I can name someone else’s
and not take it for my own.

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