There’s nothing on Earth that gets stolen from more than Black culture. From our bodies being taken from Africa to every part of our identities being appropriated and fawned over, as infuriating as it may be, it makes sense that America would want to steal our joy, too. It’s why a white-ass team in a white-ass sport thought it was OK to celebrate Juneteenth in the dumbest way possible.
For some odd reason, the San Jose Sharks thought that an image of their mascot biting the chains off the shackles around a Black person’s wrist would be a great way of celebrating a holiday that white people just discovered – or Columbus’d – last year.
Or, maybe it was because the image was created by Mohamed Fofana, an account manager for the team that also makes T-shirts that benefit the Black community in San Jose. I’m guessing someone in the front office thought to themselves, “Hey, let’s get the African guy to do something.”
White people, here’s a secret: All African-Americans are Black. But, all Black people aren’t African-Americans. And the history of slavery in this country is solely an African-American experience. That’s all I’m going to explain for now, because that’s a much larger conversation. And this isn’t the platform to have that discussion.
Back to the Sharks.
As you can guess, the image received a ton of backlash, and the original post was taken down. In their minds, the Sharks thought they were doing something good as they wanted to honor Juneteenth – the 19th day of June in 1865, when thousands of slaves in Texas finally found out about the Emancipation Proclamation, more than two years after it had been signed. After the events of last summer, Corporate America finally got wind of Juneteenth and made it a “holiday.” This year, Congress has already voted to make it a national holiday, as President Joe Biden has signed the bill into law.
Don’t get it twisted, having Juneteenth as a national holiday is important, as it’s the closest thing to America saying, “that whole slavery thing was really messed up.” But, given the landscape, and history, of America, this is yet another example of this country giving African-Americans something they didn’t ask for while ignoring the things they actually need.
For instance, here are some of the things that could actually help African-Americans:
- Easier ways to vote: As more Republican governors are signing laws that enhance voter suppression — to discourage Black voters — having laws that would allow a fair and safe way for all people to cast ballots at the polls would go far in keeping this a “democracy.” Making Election Day a national holiday isn’t a bad idea, either.
- Pass an anti-lynching bill: Black people in this country have been trying to make lynching a federal hate crime punishable up to life in prison for over six decades. Help us.
- Leave ObamaCare alone: On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act for the third time in a 7-to-2 vote. Republicans, Trump, and racists have been trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act from the beginning all because a Black man was the only one smart enough to figure out how to get healthcare for millions of Americans.
- Reparations: We built this sh*t, so pay us for it.
- Make critical race theory mandatory: Only in America would a country create a national holiday around thousands of slaves learning that they were “free,” while also trying to ban the education of slavery in our school systems. How are kids supposed to learn what Juneteenth is if you try to act like slavery never happened?
At its core, and as it continues, Juneteenth has always been F.U.B.U. – For us, By us. A celebration of what we’ve overcome in the past, and the obstacles that we continue to hurdle in the present. It’s now being hijacked by hockey teams, pundits, politicians, and profiteers.
Everybody wants to be Black, until it’s time to be Black. And even then, they still get a day off work that they don’t deserve.