I’ve been thinking a lot about the looming holiday. The celebration of Independence Day, much like Thanksgiving, has become the type of annual event that leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth. (While I’m thankful to eat, I can tell that the food was dropped on the floor and dragged through the dirt…)So when Callie, our Marketing Program Manager, asked me to sit down and write this month’s, From Lindsey’s Desk, I really struggled. Do we discuss this Country’s ongoing erasure of our painful collective history? Do we discuss the refreshed rage at any attempt to educate our children and provide them with a critical lens by which to shape a new and better society? Do we discuss the ongoing suppression of voting rights?
On a recent sunny, Juneteenth morning I found myself sitting (virtually) opposite my colleague, and sister-friend, Michaela Ayers, Founder and Principal Consultant at NourishCommunity. My mother, and children, squealing and laughing with delight off camera, Michaela asked me in their warm, honey-laced way a simple but overwhelmingly complex question, What Does Liberation Mean To You?
Here’s what I wish I’d said…
I come from these people. And they come from the original owners of this land, slave ships, sugar cane fields in the Caribbean, the South, the North, and more recently, Pittsburgh, PA.
I am of these people – cells, blood, marrow – and they are of me.
We are Black people. And we are not.
We are Black people because they first constructed this identity for us, and we claimed this identity – made it our magnificent own through music, dance, art, food – to simultaneously begin liberating ourselves from it. And we are not, because it was constructed, it is external, I am labeled it, and so it is a false identity.
It is in this duality that I attend to my ongoing work of self-liberation.
As we approach the American celebration of independence this 4th of July weekend, I invite you to reflect on the question, “What Does Liberation Mean To You?”
All my best,
Lindsey T. H. Jackson