I never knew what Juneteenth was until I was invited to organize face painting for a parade at Tiny Tots, where I managed a satellite office for Iowa State University Extension in the early 1980’s. My understanding continues to grow as my awareness of White privilege and systemic racism evolve.
Ms. Evelyn K. Davis and her colleagues Ms. Margaret Fields and Ms. Charlene Owens taught me so much, and frankly put up with so much during the years we exchanged training and programming for rent. What graceful and gracious women!
Certainly I butted heads with my Black colleagues. I will always be so grateful for the grace they gave me as I blundered through the process of collaborative programming to improve literacy for the children we all cared for so deeply.
From this vantage point I know it was nowhere near enough, but education was all I had; and is still all I have to offer. The Next Step team offers a set of activities for middle and high school students, and yes, even for adults, to help us explore the underlying reasons for the systemic racism so rampant in our culture. Please experiment with them and let us know how they work for you. Here are the first two–
This year, Juneteenth found us in the middle of an awesome movement brought to us by Black Lives Matter. I’m grateful for the many opportunities to get involved financially, in protests, conversations and this educational effort. Even though we may not change the world overnight, please join me–read and learn about White privilege. Join the marches and protests. Support the Black people at the heart of the movement.
And step back a moment and remember that it’s not about us. At the same time it is. All about us.