Juneteenth: Keeping Faith with Our African American Brothers and Sisters

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On this Nineteenth of June 2019 African Americans around the United States commemorate the Abolition of slavery. It has been called Juneteenth since 1865, even though Lincoln proclaimed the end of slavery with the Emancipation Proclamation in 1963. African Americans in Texas still toiled in bondage until June 19, 1865 when news of the Proclamation finally reached Texas, and, in some cases grudgingly, slaves were notified they were free at last. Perhaps now, as never before, do we need to remember who we are as Americans in all our varieties and ancestral origins. As hatred is spoken around and about the highest offices in the land, we must celebrate all that is good, kind and right within one another. Hatred cannot stand, and in the longer scheme of things, it will not. But for now, as hearts are wounded and rage engendered, let there be balm in Gilead.

A few weeks ago while I was in a medical office making a return appointment the African American clerk offered me June 19. My calendar noted the date was Juneteenth, and I had a conflict anyhow, so we found another day. I mentioned that this date was Juneteenth, and she looked at me blankly. I was prompted to ask if she knew what it was. When she said no I gave a feeble explanation. I asked if she was familiar with “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the Black National Anthem, and she said she was. I had heard it on a radio broadcast, entranced, two years ago and that evening blogged about this amazing music here. I told her the song and the day were related. Evidently it wasn’t until Ralph Abernathy and Coretta Scott King incorporated Juneteenth into the Poor People’s March to Washington DC in 1968 that the tradition was carried home to communities around the nation. The Juneteenth World Wide website gives its detailed history.

Yesterday in The Forward, a Jewish periodical that goes back to 1897, Tema Smith in its Opinion section called for Jews to celebrate Juneteenth with our African American brethren and sisters. She writes:

Let the Jewish community take cues from black leaders who ask them to reckon with hard truths — truths like the fact that the wealth of America was built on the back of African slaves from whom our black community is largely descended. Truths like the fact that many Jews in pre-Civil War America were silent on slavery, and some did, in fact, own slaves. Truths like, while many in our Jewish community have been able to access reparations for our communal tragedy of the Holocaust, black Americans continue to fight for theirs.

Smith ends her powerful piece with these immortal words of Emma Lazarus, “Until we are all free, we are none of us free.”

And today as a Congressional Reparations hearing begins in Congress, I end this post with one of the most haunting and evocative anthems I have ever heard. A capella group Committed sings “Lift Every Voice and Sing”:

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Thus Have I Read

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An American flag and photograph of the Buddha are prominently displayed in the barracks of the Portland Livestock Exposition Building, where Japanese Americans were interned. May 31, 1942 | Photograph courtesy The Oregonian / Barcroft Media

This morning I read an article in the Tricycle magazine and found it so forceful, I wanted to assure more people read it. That’s where you come in, and hopefully you’ll direct your friends and followers to check it out as well. For immediate, present moment relevance, just notice the crib in the above photograph.

At this time in our nation’s history when children as young as infants are being separated from parents at our southern border and held in tent encampments and other dreary facilities, we need to remember where this country has been. We may have thought we had moved beyond the paranoid ideation leading to the ensiling of the different, or alien, other. Au contraire. Here we are. We are being led by an individual who hawks lies and hatred purchased wholesale by the incurious and the uninformed. That there are so many of them appalls and frightens me. So, as Duncan Ryuken Williams quotes Nyogen Senzaki in this Tricycle piece,

The Buddha taught that identity is neither permanent nor disconnected from the realities of other identities. From this vantage point, America is a nation that is always dynamically evolving—a nation of becoming, its composition and character constantly transformed by migrations from many corners of the world, its promise made manifest not by an assertion of a singular or supremacist racial and religious identity, but by the recognition of the interconnected realities of a complex of peoples, cultures, and religions that enrich everyone.

Namasté,

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Solemnly Remembering Paradise

My friend David in Northern California posted this most timely and saddening blog post today. Thank you, David. Puts into perspective the fact that I stopped up the garbage disposal (again) with vegetable peelings 🙄. May the healing of body, heart and mind, and of our precious Mother Nature begin in every needed way.

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Ashes of Paradise (taken at noon Thursday) ~d nelson

Remembering that time when
my journey landed me upon
a special high forested mountainside,
inhabited, mostly, with friendly older folks,
who called the place Paradise.
Perhaps you can remember
such a pleasant place, yourself.

Ashes of Paradise 2 (taken at noon on Thursday)

Hadn’t thought about Paradise
for such a long time
until the other day when darkness
suddenly descended at noon
and its ashes rained down on my valley.
A local witness said it was like the gates of hell opened up.

Ashes of Paradise 5 ~usda

Breathing in (with a carbon filtered mask), I taste smoke, again.
Breathing out, clean carbon dioxide.
Sadly reflecting on those lost, newly homeless,
continued windy, bone-dry conditions,
realizing another catastrophic California inferno.
Details are easily found on current news & here.  (my local air quality below)

Ashes of Paradise 6 ~epa

As…

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No One is Above the Law

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything.

Life has been busy here as we continue to unpack, put away, and sometimes even donate or discard the contents of the many boxes of original art and many other things we shipped to our new full-time residence. As I’ve said before, we once were snowbirds and now are flamingos. Every week we’re cutting up cardboard to put out with the recycling. Medical appointments, regular exercise with walks, gym and pool, and endlessly shopping for fresh and healthy food as we eat to improve our wellbeing, all have taken up much of our time of late. It is what it is.

We voted here in Florida on the first day of early voting and watched the coverage late into Tuesday night. We’re thrilled about the blue wave of progressive women and men, veterans, many of them very young and some LGBT, some Native Americans, and all patriots. As an aging lefty, I am so glad the new guard has stepped up so energetically for our collective good. But that wave didn’t make it down here, unless recounts change the senate and gubernatorial races. And yesterday’s unhinged WH press conference, subsequent AG firing, and later the pulling of a journalist’s hard WH press pass after he stood his ground, should leave no doubt in our minds that an autocrat is swinging a cudgel wildly and is very, very dangerous.

If the firing of Jeff Sessions and elevation of a staffer who has called the Mueller investigation a “witch-hunt” to the position of acting attorney general has caused you to fear for our republic, take heart from the protests being held today at 5 pm local time nationwide. Check here to locate the gathering nearest to you. Even in very red SW FL, we have one right near us. It’s never too late to suit up and show up.

Namasté

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Sad News About Missing Man

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Some time ago, I reposted my friend Xenia Tran’s blog post about a man from Scotland who went missing after a bachelors party in Hamburg, Germany. Here’s a link to today’s post, and it contains a link to her original post.

Haibun: Missing in Hamburg

Life brings us all heartaches and bad news. We’ve had both in our lives of late. We got a devastating diagnosis with no hope for a cure, and my dear uncle’s wife has died. We can’t go to the funeral because of our own health drama currently unfolding, but we sent cards and expressed our love and condolences. Despite this sadness and concern we feel for ourselves and our immediate and extended family, we are able to feel deeply for others, and doing so is very important and even healing for us.

Our hearts go out to Liam’s family and his friends.

With much love,

and gratitude for our many blessings,

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Your Diversion: Permission

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Graphic from Pinterest, attributed To Brene Brown

Permit, consent, allow, let, give

  • Permit ourselves, permit others.
  • Consent to something, consent to someone.
  • Allow yourself, allow another, allow for something.
  • Let yourself, let someone, let something.
  • Give permission, give consent, give allowance. 

This week there’s much from which we might wish to divert ourselves. Rather than remind us all of what is wrong in the world today, let’s look at some good things, even in surprising places.

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And Still She Persisted, mixed media by Jill Jacobs

First, here’s a story of courage.

An 18 year old woman was riding around one night in a car in Brooklyn with two male friends. They were pulled over by NYPD officers in an unmarked van. There was pot in the car. The guys were let go but the girl was detained in the van. They never arrested her nor did they document the stop in any way. She has accused the officers of taking turns raping her in the van and then dropping her by the side of a deserted road.

The case is dragging slowly through the courts. She was deposed for 12 hours over a three-day period by lawyers for the City. Her courage is monumental, because despite all her social media posts since middle school and sex life being examined in the utmost detail for some evidence to discredit her, still she has persisted. The kicker? Her mother took her to an ER and lo and behold, DNA of both cops was found on her person. Dead to rights, right? No! In New York State it is not illegal for police to have sex with persons in their custody! Nor is it illegal in more than half the states in the US. The whole case is boiling down to consent. The two cops, both no longer with the force, claim the sex they took turns having with her, while she says she was handcuffed, was consensual. She vehemently denies this. Read more from Buzzfeed here. And let’s follow her case. If she can hold fast and persist despite the pressure, legal bullying and they-said-she-said applying unimaginable pressure on this teenage girl, she can change our world.

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Whether you are fighting City Hall, literally as we’ve just read, or figuratively in some other way, even if you’re trying to swim against the current in your relationship, your job or your community, you need love. So a meditation to help you feel that love for yourself is a must. Lion’s Roar offers you just the thing with some fine meditation instructions.

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Sarah Blondin, Live Awake

Speaking of meditation, I am totally enthralled with the guided meditations of writer Sarah Blondin. Her Live Awake podcasts are available online on iTunes, SoundCloud, and Insight Timer, among other places. Since we are all about consent and permission in this post, let me share with you her lovely voice asking to give you permission to allow yourself all good things.

And since permission and consent involve giving, the late and much missed Kate Wolf with her hauntingly beautiful voice sings us out.

 

Namasté

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 52

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Week 52 has arrived and I’m pretty late in getting to it. I’m not sure why my blogging year is up before January 20th, but so it is! It’s been a busy week for us, nothing worth noting here, but plenty nevertheless. The news continues to create stress and distress, especially the devastating mudslides in Southern California. It’s heartbreaking to see the damage and even worse to learn about the deaths of people and countless pets. Sometimes it feels as if Mother Nature is trying to shake us loose with earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, fires and floods.

 

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Hillary Brooke (1914-1999) (photo from Wikipedia)

My first diversion this week is a tribute to a woman I knew in childhood, actress Hillary Brooke. She was an actress, first noticed in “New Faces of 1937” and she appeared in Abbott and Costello sketches and even had a role in the ‘70s TV show “Soap” and My Little Margie” decades before that. Her name was Hillary Brooke. I met her as a friend of my godmother, a lovely Englishwoman who worked as a diction coach in the film industry and taught Hillary her distinctive, plummy British accent. She was born in Astoria, Queens, after all! Hillary gave me my set of Mary Poppins books, and took me hitchhiking when I was about 12 years old during a stay at my godmother’s mountain cabin, after walking back from the little town center tired us out. She had a dog, a black Scottie named Barney. Hillary was the most glamorous, fascinating woman I’d met at that time. Growing up in Southern California, I met quite a few people in the entertainment industry, most friends and clients of my father. Hillary was the first, and I remember her with love.

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Photo by Peter Landers, Wall Street Journal

Okay, next I have a weird diversion for you. In Japan an unusual version of Coca Cola is grabbing attention. Called Coca Cola Plus, it contains a high fiber, laxative additive that fans believe allows them to eat unhealthy food and not digest the fat, thereby leading some to dub it “weight loss cola” as opposed to regular or “fat” cola. If you have trouble accessing the WSJ article here, since they have a paywall, TimeOut Beijing has the goods. And the text in the second link is funnier!

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Now, remember Superstorm Sandy? So does the City of New York, and the City as an investment entity recognizes climate change as the result of fossil fuels raising the planet’s temperature. Therefore, the City is severing ties with their fossil fuel investments. This divestiture could be a huge deal in global economics and spur positive change.

And there’s no one like Bob Dylan to remind us that A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall.

Cheers, all, and…

Namasté

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