Friday, 19 June 2020

Juneteenth. Taking the knee. Being (un)aware. Traditional values.

Today is June 19th. Juneteenth. Also known in The USA as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day and Liberation Day. It is an unofficial American holiday and an official Texas state holiday. Some say it should not be regarded as a holiday as such but more of a commemoration of Union army general Gordon Granger’s reading of federal orders in Galveston, Texas, on the 19th of June 1865, declaring that all slaves in Texas were now free. This was about two and a half years behind the Emancipation Proclamation but Texas was the most remote of the slave states and enforcement of the proclamation had been slow and inconsistent. However it was done and celebrations date back to then, mostly church and community celebrations originally.

It was rather eclipsed by the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s but now there are pressure groups asking for it to be made into a national holiday. Modern observance is primarily in local celebrations. Traditions include public readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, singing traditional songs such as "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" and "Lift Every Voice and Sing", and reading of works by noted African-American writers such as Ralph Ellison and Maya Angelou. Celebrations include rodeos, street fairs, cookouts, family reunions, park parties, historical reenactments, and Miss Juneteenth contests.

Here’s a link to some information about it.

I have to confess to ignorance of this commemoration day until now but I suppose I have the excuse of not being American. Not so President Trump, who had to be told about it by a black member of his security staff. He had planned his first campaign rally since the pandemic for that date but was persuaded to cancel.

Here in the UK we have our own politicians showing off their ignorance, with Dominic Raab expressing his belief that the practice taking a knee originated in the TV serialisation of Game of Thrones. In fact it is a longstanding practice, predating even the Civil Rights Movement. Maybe it’s just that it is not a part of traditional “British values”.

Now, the counter-protester carried to safety by a Black Lives Matter protester has been identified as a certain Bryn Male. “A delivery driver living in Basingstoke, Hampshire, Male was among football supporters who had travelled to London on the day when BLM protests were due to take place. He is described as a Millwall FC fan on the website of a local village club where he volunteers. A fellow member of the club said Male was “a patriotic Brit, England through and through”. He told the Daily Mail he had travelled to London to protect monuments after seeing graffiti.”

There you go: “a patriotic Brit, England through and through”

Incidentally (coincidentally?) I have been reading The Forsyte Saga. It’s a mammoth read and I am now half way through volume three. In this volume a young man by the name of Wilfrid Desert (pronounced not like the dry, sandy place but like the action of deserting something) is taken prisoner in the Middle East and forced at gunpoint to convert to Islam. Back home in the UK he is met with criticism and contempt. It is considered NOT BRITISH that he did this at gunpoint and did not let himself be shot!! The man was clearly YELLOW. And he reduced the standing of all Britons abroad! It was so serious that it ruined his romance with a young lady of good family and he was forced to flee the country once more. Good British values!

And, while I am on the subject of our image abroad, can someone tell me why Boris Johnson needs a red, white and blue plane?

That’s all. Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

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