June 19, 2020 by Megan
Today is Juneteenth, a day of celebration I am only recently aware of here in the Pacific Northwest.
The overdue freedom for Black slaves – still unjustly in servitude in Texas in 1865 two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation – is something we all should recognize and honor… right? Freedom Day. It’s not yet a federally recognized holiday, but that is one of many things that can be changed.
I’m realizing that our (my) awareness of our history is so incomplete. In large part, because history itself is a selective lens, as are the conventions around how people/places/events are honored and remembered… whose monuments are built, who has schools and freeways named for them, and what holidays are federally recognized, among other things. These choices influence our understanding of our past and present in powerful ways. This, among other truths, I am doing my best to catch up on learning.
These last months have been the start of a marathon to recognize and fill the gaps in “the picture” I hold of our world. Giving time to the exposure of systems of injustice, learning of (destroyed) places like Black Wall Street and Seneca Village, researching events like apartheid and Bacon’s Rebellion, and words like diaspora and restitution and red lining and and and and…. realizing how limited my personal lens has been.
In our daily work at Rogue Heart, it is our job to ask questions, to actively listen, and to help amplify the thoughts and experiences of others. We pursue a variety of diverse perspectives on the topics we touch, and work to earn the trust of those we meet by respecting their story and their humanity, and dignifying their truth in how we edit our pieces. That is our work and we are privileged to be invited in. Which is why it is SO important that we gratefully challenge ourselves to broaden our understanding of the world to make room for the differing experiences of our neighbors, which are no less valid or meaningful than our own; to recognize our own biases that may play out in our lives and work, because we all have implicit biases; and to endeavor for equitable systems where we have any power of influence (hint: find yours, use yours). And at the very least, we must use this growing awareness to persistently and ACTIVELY CARE. Seeking more knowledge and context, that’s a form of caring. Entering dialog and being open to confrontation when you could more easily be silent, that is caring. Taking on this struggle in meaningful ways as part of your own history, your own humanity. CARING.
That awareness and caring of course needs to turn the corner into action and doing.
It shouldn’t need saying, but it does: Black Lives Matter. Right now, all people of privilege are being invited to adjust the lens through which we view the world. Our team is committed to defining actions we can take to strengthen our response in solidarity with our neighbors.
Initial work has found us leaning into the familiar medium of documentary films to inform us. As we continue to absorb, discuss, and pursue meaningful ways to contribute to a more just community, it is easy to feel paralyzed by all the things we don’t know. All the ways we are still seeing with a broken lens. All the ways we are likely to trip up or miss a step completely. But we are committed to the march, because this history and this humanity is a shared one, and there is work to do. And like honoring Juneteenth, many of us (like me!) are making up for lost time.
FILMS for your exploration:
For Juneteenth, Rogue Heart is joining other companies and communities in honoring and observing the day with our time. My hope is that we can move the focus from labor to reflection, celebrating our freedom and our families while spending some time to focus on how we got here. I plan to watch the films I haven’t yet on the list above, and I encourage you to explore them as well.
Thank you to the authors, artists, and educators that have contributed to producing and organizing these resources. Our team is grateful that so many resources exist thanks to the hard work, research, and perseverance of many who already appreciated the critical nature of this history. Our history, shared, but often not seen clearly. Thank you to everyone who is endeavoring to find their role in meaningful action, but especially those who have been doing this work for years, decades, a lifetime.
If you can, please join us in making a direct donation to the Carl Maxey Center to support Cultural Enrichment, Economic Development and Social & Racial Justice here at home. The goal of the center is to uplift, empower and transform the community from the inside out. We can all get behind that. Learn more about who Carl Maxey was here: https://www.carlmaxeycenter.org/faq
You can also join us in supporting the important work of Equal Justice Initiative, which endeavors to end mass incarceration, excessive punishment, and racial inequality. See their deeper history and more expansive (and informed) words on Juneteenth here.