By Sheila Meh
Well folks it’s been a year since you’ve heard from me and what a year it’s been! We’ve made leaps and bounds in medicine as it relates to COVID-19, we’ve become more adjusted to our routines, and we’ve started to imagine a world in which the pandemic doesn’t run our lives. This has been fantastic news to hear! As someone who loves to travel and see friends and family, I couldn’t wait to get the vaccine and start doing the things I loved again. While things are constantly evolving and changing in the pandemic, there are some things that don’t feel like they are. Last time you heard from me, I talked about the importance of Juneteenth and what it meant to me. This was largely because two very high-profile murders happened right before our very eyes; Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. Since our last encounter only one of those cases has pretty much concluded. While locking Chauvin up feels like music to my ears, I fully understand it doesn’t bring George Floyd back. It doesn’t restore the pain, hurt, and trauma our community experienced. It doesn’t reverse the anger of a beaten community. And it certainly doesn’t excuse what’s already happened in the past — but it’s the beginning. This reunion between you and I isn’t about feeling bad for ourselves, but rather a celebration of what’s to come.
As a reminder Juneteenth was born in 1865 where Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, TX and announced the end of Civil War, and the end of slavery. Since then, it’s been a symbol of freedom for the black community. While this was incredible news to hear, the ugliness of racism and discrimination had left its stain on America and has continued to this day. Since George Floyd’s murder, Newsweek reported as of May 25th, 2021, at least 229 black people have been murdered across the US at the hands of police. I don’t know about you, but that’s 229 too many. These individuals should be alive with their loved ones just like us. They should be grilling on Memorial Day, getting ready for work, and embracing life just the same. Instead, they’re left in the street and when we hear the stories about what happened it all sounds way too similar.
Like I said earlier I want our reunion to be a celebration of what’s to come. We can’t bury ourselves in the bad and not consider the amazing things people are doing to spread some good. Non-profits such as The Black Vision Collective, Reclaim the Block, and Racial Justice Network are doing incredible things to restore faith back into communities all over Minnesota. Large corporations are finally being held accountable for exploiting underrepresented communities. And people are finally starting to stand up for the voiceless because they realize if they don’t, they are a part of the problem. As I look at all the good that’s being done, I realize none of this happened overnight. It took active participation (genuine or not) to get us here. It’s this type of involvement that is going to move us forward into a future I can feel safer bringing children into. I’m not saying America is fixed (we are far from that), but I can say, there’s a spark.
Because of the hope I feel, this Juneteenth I want to celebrate! I want to lavish in everything that is Black and feel unapologetically myself. I want to support and hug on old friends (that are also vaccinated) and give them the space to also feel free. I want to hear about black stories that don’t include trauma because we’ve had enough of those. This Juneteenth I want to own the right to feel happy just as my white counterparts. If it’s alright with you, I want to give you a call to action this holiday. If you have a close black person in your life, whether you’re black or an ally, simply ask them: “How can I celebrate you?” Now don’t make them feel awkward about it or force them into a response, but provide the space to let them feel like with everything going on they are worthy of being celebrated. The worst thing we can do after this holiday is regress and forget about what’s happened this past year; we can’t afford to do that. As we continue to honor the commitment to equality and be the change agent in our small circles, you’ll continue to see the larger effect it has on the world.
Looking for more ways you can celebrate Juneteenth?! See the listing of black owned businesses to visit:
Sheila Meh is a former Coach at Alchemy 365 North Loop, Alchemy Anywhere, and a beloved member of our community. She is currently a Boutique Fitness Business Consultant and you can follow her on Instagram @thesheilzlife.