On The Vine: This Juneteenth I’m thankful for hypocrisy

·4 min read

Thank you kindly for the “recognition,” making Juneteenth a federal holiday, the literal least you could do — coming some 150-plus years after we’d already slathered the day in heaps of song, food, knowledge and celebration.

Thank you for giving us that, now that you’ve discovered what Juneteenth is.

Thank you for giving us a day off when all we want is for you to take your knee off our throat.

Thank you for recognizing the reluctant end to America’s original sin — if you’re not counting that time foreigners came to murder and steal from American Indians — when all we’ve wanted is to see reparations for the hundreds of years of being beaten, raped, slaughtered, miseducated and gaslit, all while being the driving force of economic power and culture in this country.

Thank you for somehow taking this long overdue step while at the same time desperately trying to pull critical race theory, structural racism and history out of circulation.

I’m sorry because I know some of y’all are trying, for sure. But on the whole, miss me with this performative, “oh we just realized slavery was bad and recognize Black people are fed up, but also that was a long time ago and racism doesn’t exist anymore, here we’ll prove it with this nothing gesture, but don’t talk about how we did do that, why is everything about race? Geez just get over it already,” nonsense.

Thank you for your hypocrisy.

Around the block

Members of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity performed a step routine in front of the judges stand at the JuneteenthKC 2021 Cultural Parade Saturday, June 12, 2021 in the Historic Jazz District near 18th and Vine.
Members of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity performed a step routine in front of the judges stand at the JuneteenthKC 2021 Cultural Parade Saturday, June 12, 2021 in the Historic Jazz District near 18th and Vine.

Kansas City celebrates Juneteenth

Don’t get it twisted, I love Juneteenth and the joy and celebration that so often rises out from the roots of so much Black pain and trauma. I’ve been celebrating the holiday — marking the day news of the end of slavery reached slaves in Texas (some two-plus years after the Emancipation Proclamation) — with this city since I was a little dude.

I remember one year convincing my pops to buy a bootlegged copy of “The Hulk,” that’s the Eric Bana version, in which the filmmakers hadn’t yet CGI’d the purple shorts on the Hulk. That was my Juneteenth.

Anyway, The Star compiled a list of Juneteenth events in Kansas City this weekend.

I’m particularly looking forward to The JuneteenthKC 2021 Cultural Heritage Festival beginning at noon at 18th & Vine. See y’all there. May you find your bootlegged “The Hulk.”

Many residents near West 29th Street and Belleview Avenue on Kansas City’s West Side are opposed to a development that would construct nine new townhomes on the heavily treed lot (right) across from the modest houses on Belleview Avenue.
Many residents near West 29th Street and Belleview Avenue on Kansas City’s West Side are opposed to a development that would construct nine new townhomes on the heavily treed lot (right) across from the modest houses on Belleview Avenue.

On Kansas City’s rapidly changing Westside, a new development project raises concerns

They’ve watched as new developments across the city have changed predominantly minority neighborhoods.

When siblings Kathy Tinoco and Rafael Cervantes learned about a new development project in the empty lot across the street from their childhood home, they regretted not buying the vacant lot themselves.

The Star’s Anna Spoerre and Kevin Hardy write:

Following the Mexican Revolution of 1910, immigrants began fleeing Mexico for economic opportunity across the U.S. border. Many of those who traveled as far north as Kansas City settled in the Westside, where they found work in factories and packing houses.

The area retains much of its cultural identity but has been facing a tidal wave of change as the frenzied real estate market drives up the prices of existing homes, new residents build pricey modern homes overlooking the downtown skyline and developers put more projects on the drawing board...

So when Cervantes, 44, received a notice of the townhome development in the mail in February, he was concerned. He shared it with his sister.

“We were pretty much in a tizzy,” Tinoco said.

In case you missed it...

A Harrisonville teacher is under investigation after allegedly using a racist slur during a class. A Google Maps screen grab show the general area.
A Harrisonville teacher is under investigation after allegedly using a racist slur during a class. A Google Maps screen grab show the general area.

Students allege Kansas City metro teacher used racist slur, other comments in classes

Three complaints have been lodged against John Magoffin, a science teacher with the Harrisonville School district since August 2012, alleging he used a racial slur, made comments about a Black student’s hair and referred to Martin Luther King Day as “Black Privilege Day.”

The Star’s Katie Moore has the report:

Magoffin was placed on administrative leave on April 20. He denied using inappropriate language during the hearing at the school, attended by about 100 parents and students...

The school’s investigation concluded that Magoffin had used inappropriate language.

Magoffin’s attorney Jean Lamfers cross-examined [Harrisonville High School principal Mark Wiegers], and asked him if “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which includes the racial slur, was approved curriculum.

Wiegers said it was, but that it was used in the context of a literature class as a historical book which was “totally different” than the word being used in a conversation about rap music in a biology class.

Lamfers said her client was discouraging the use of the racial slur and that teenagers may exaggerate their claims.

Six students testified that Magoffin used inappropriate language in their classes.

The school district has yet to make a decision regarding Magoffin’s employment.

Beyond the block

The Juneteenth Heritage Festival will be June 19 at The Great Lawn, 1600 John “Buck” O’Neil Way. The JuneteenthKC Cultural Parade was June 12.
The Juneteenth Heritage Festival will be June 19 at The Great Lawn, 1600 John “Buck” O’Neil Way. The JuneteenthKC Cultural Parade was June 12.

Most Americans Know Little or Nothing About Juneteenth, Poll Finds

I guess I’m not surprised.

From The New York Times:

More than 60 percent of Americans know “nothing at all” or only “a little bit” about Juneteenth, the holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the United States, according to a new Gallup survey.

The survey, the results of which were released on Tuesday, found that nearly half supported teaching the history of Juneteenth in public schools. There was less support — 35 percent — for making June 19 a federal holiday, but only a quarter of respondents said they were opposed to the idea.

Check this out...

For the culture

James Baldwin in ‘I Am Not Your Negro’
James Baldwin in ‘I Am Not Your Negro’

Watch a Never-Before-Aired James Baldwin Interview From 1979

Adreinne Westenfeld writes for Esquire:

Buried by ABC at the time, the segment reveals a unique glimpse into Baldwin’s private life—as well as his resounding criticism about white fragility, as blisteringly relevant today as it was in 1979.

Baldwin is, and will always be one of this country’s most thoughtful and searing critics. He has been my guiding light for many years. I’ll drop an excerpt from the interview, but then you should definitely go watch it. Baldwin rarely disappoints.

“White people go around, it seems to me, with a very carefully suppressed terror of Black people—a tremendous uneasiness,” Baldwin said. “They don’t know what the Black face hides. They’re sure it’s hiding something. What it’s hiding is American history. What it’s hiding is what white people know they have done, and what they like doing. White people know very well one thing; it’s the only thing they have to know. They know this; everything else, they’ll say, is a lie. They know they would not like to be Black here. They know that, and they’re telling me lies. They’re telling me and my children nothing but lies.”

On Sept. 13, 1996, rapper Tupac Shakur died at a Las Vegas hospital six days after he was wounded in a drive-by shooting; he was 25.
On Sept. 13, 1996, rapper Tupac Shakur died at a Las Vegas hospital six days after he was wounded in a drive-by shooting; he was 25.

Jada Pinkett Smith Releases Never-Before-Seen Poem By Tupac For His 50th Birthday

In many ways, Tupac Shakur and James Baldwin are two sides of the same coin. The poet, rapper and actor would have turned 50 on Wednesday. Over the course of the last year-plus I’ve sat and listened to a lot of what Pac had to say, and I wondered so much what he’d say if he were still here.

While it doesn’t quite answer that question, Jada Pinkett Smith took to Instagram to read a never before heard poem he wrote her.

The poem is called “Lost Soulz”:

Some say nothing gold can last forever / And 2 believe this [I] need no proof / I have witnessed all that was pure in me / And be changed by the evil men can do / The innocence possessed by children / Once lived inside my soul / But surviving years with criminal peers / Has turned my warm heart to cold / I used 2 dream and fantasize / But now I’m scared 2 sleep / Petrified, not to live or die / But to awaken and still be me / It is true that nothing gold can last / We will all one day see death / When the purest hearts are torn apart / LOST SOULS are all that’s left / Down on my knees I beg of God / To save me from this fate / Let me live to see what was gold in me / Before it is all too late.

Keep ya head up

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