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I didn’t listen to my first mind.

This morning I woke up

Knowing it was July 4th

And how triggering

This day could be for me

I thought about taking a

Break from social media today.

I didn’t listen to my first mind.

I came across a post

With the necessary

And reckoning words

From Frederick Douglass,

“What, to the Slave,

Is the 4th of July?’

As I read it, I thought,

how deranged

One must be

To feel their freedom

Can only be secured

By taking it away

From someone else?

Then I read a post

that said

“Liberty and Justice for All”

The caption asked me

To celebrate a country

That has spent more time

Taking away "liberty and justice"

From people like me

Then it has spent giving it.

I didn’t listen to my first mind.

Lastly, I ran across a post.

Praying for this country.

I thought, well, maybe this time.

Maybe this post.

The prayer talked about

This country losing sight of its first love

And for that, I am eternally grateful.

I'm so glad this country has

Lost sight of putting legalities

In place to dehumanize me.

Well, at least to the

Level that it once did.

I didn’t listen to my first mind.

Then I thought

"Paula, we're going with our first mind!"

Today I celebrate my ancestors

who bought my freedom,

with their blood,

and who were bold enough

to take the rights

others tried to deny us.

And remember the oppression

That is born out of fear

and a demented

sense of self

Always has an expiration date.

And in the meantime,

We're going to keep fighting

For those who continue to suffer

Before the time is up

So today,

Because I dared to look,

I focus not so much

On the ideals this country has yet to realize

But I choose to focus on Psalm 103: 6,

"The Lord works

righteousness and justice

for all the oppressed."

And I chose to look and

See the hurting of others,

The oppression that exists,

The injustice that still prevails

And join with God in that work.

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Overwhelmed. In describing how I felt after hearing the Supreme Court’s decisions this week, I describe myself as overwhelmed. In our country, it seems that we receive negative news every day. Caring has become a full-time job, and I'm officially quitting. After this week of judicial decisions, I have come up with three reasons in defense of my resignation.

1. I get to be a skeptic! When we don’t care, we go through life without hoping for anything better. As a skeptic, I wouldn’t look for justice for people who don’t have access to tutors, standardized testing courses, and legacy benefits. I can resign myself to knowing that when you work hard, that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to have better. I get to resign myself to always being behind and never being able to fulfill all the things that God has placed in me to leave this world better than I found it. When I don’t care, I don’t have to hope or work for the better.

2. I can live a boring life. When we care about ourselves and our society, we work to make things better. This brings adventures and opportunities that I can forego when I decide not to care. I protect myself from the excitement of changing voting laws that make the ballot box available to everyone. I won’t see the next generation enter careers previously off-limits to them. And I can resign myself to not living in a neighborhood that doesn’t want me there. When I give up caring, I can succumb to living a boring life, reaching for only what is put in front of me by someone else.

3. I get to give up my humanity. The ability to feel is one of the greatest gifts God gave us in distinguishing us from other parts of creation, but those feelings come with complications. The possibility of feeling the satisfaction of making the world more just for somebody else is reason enough to not not care. Hoping that doing justice results in a more diverse world is reason enough to not not care. And to hang on to the best parts of humanity that are present in each of us is reason enough to not not care.

We’ve been given plenty of reasons not to care, but not caring requires me to give up too much of myself, and I’m unwilling to pay that. So here are three reasons not to care, but I don’t think they’re good enough reasons to stop caring!

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An old African proverb says, “Until the lion tells the story, the hunter will always be the hero.” This is why Juneteenth is so important. We have statues, flags, and even holidays that point to the confederacy of this nation. We erect symbols of oppression to celebrate one of the darkest periods in America’s history. But on June 17, 2021, President Biden signed a bill that is a critical step in letting the lion tell her story of slavery, the Civil War, and emancipation. In signing this bipartisan bill, Americans are asked to “acknowledge and condemn the history of slavery in our Nation and recognize how the impact of America’s original sin remains.” Even with the bill’s signing, many don’t know what Juneteenth is, why it matters, or the woman who fought for decades to ensure this country’s memory is accurate and holistic.

On January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect, freeing all enslaved peoples across the States. While the news traveled and was enforced in many Southern states, it was 2.5 years before it reached Galveston, Texas, and was accompanied by federal soldiers to ensure compliance. On June 19, 1865, 250,000 people were finally freed from slavery. The day was later commemorated as “Juneteenth.”

While the holiday was widely known more in the South than in other regions of the States, too few people knew about the lag time. We weren’t told about the injustice of the wait poured into the wounds of people already subjected to enslavement, rape, and a host of dehumanizing practices. Lincoln signed the Emancipation, but there were slave owners that held out as long as they could until being forced to give freedom to people that never should have been enslaved in the first place.

In 2016, Ms. Opal Lee, the Grandmother of Juneteenth, had enough of the secrecy. She knew that wounds do not get healed if they stay covered up. Ms. Lee set out to walk from Fort Worth to Washington D.C. at a pace of 2.5 miles in the morning and the afternoon to signify the 2.5 years it took for slaves to be free from Galveston. Her walk increased awareness in communities along her route, and family members, concerned about her health, asked her to amend her plans by joining the local Juneteenth celebrations. While no change is ever achieved alone, if it were not for the efforts of Ms. Lee, many of us would still not know the significance of this day and the work necessary to secure a basic human right for Black Americans.

As you take time to celebrate today, in the words of Ms. Lee, I want to remind us if people have been taught to hate, they can be taught to love, and it is up to you to do it."

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