Every year, June 19th is dubbed as Juneteenth by many Americans and celebrates a day in 1865 when the last slaves in America were freed. Because the Emancipation Proclamation, issued on September 22, 1862, stated that slaves in those states that did not cease their rebellion against the Union would be set free, the proclamation did not apply to the slave-holding states that did not rebel. Also, the proclamation was ignored by those states that seceded from the Union. So it wasn't until June 19, 1865, when General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas issuing General Order No. 3, that all slaves in America were freed. Juneteenth, therefore, is meaningful to African-Americans as well as many other Americans as a symbol of freedom and perserverance.
It's no coincidence, then, that Juneteenth is celebrated in over 200 cities in the United States. Texas and Oklahoma have even made it a legal holiday. Well unfortunately, there isn't a legal holiday in California to mark Juneteenth, so every year, a group of people at work throw a Juneteenth picnic at lunchtime to celebrate this important day. I've attended every year for five years now, and it's always a blast. People bring their kids, there's wiffle-softball, water gun fights, and a pinata. And for 10 bucks, you get to partake in some wonderful southern food. BBQ ribs and chicken, fried chicken, succotash, collard greens, black eyed peas, dirty rice, corn bread. Then there's another table with salads, fresh fruit, and delicious desserts like peach cobbler, sock-it-to-me-cake and sweet potato pie.
This year's Juneteenth picnic was on Friday afternoon, and though it was a gloomy day, it was nevertheless a nice treat to be outside at the neighborhood park. I went through the serving line, my plate filling up fast with all the yummy southern treats. I finally sat down at our group's picnic table, mouth watering, and started tearing into my BBQ when all of a sudden...
...I looked to my left to see a buffet plate with nothing on it but a little mound of salad, three strawberries, a small cluster of grapes and one corn muffin. Yes, "Sum Ditz" (thanks, Kirk of mmm-yoso!!! for helping me coin that nickname) was sitting next to me, picking at her rabbit food, and NOT EVEN FINISHING her practically non-exisitent lunch. My other coworker and I gave each other a look of disbelief, and the remainder of our lunch was a little uncomfortable, as the rest of us were gnawing at our BBQ ribs, and she had nothing to talk to us about except for her yoga or pilates or yogilates classes.
So no disrespect, but I'm going to give Juneteenth my own special meaning this year. Most importantly, Juneteenth symbolizes freedom from slavery in a historical sense, but what if it could symbolize freedom from your own personal slavery? Like the slavery of self image, for example. Nowadays, one of the greatest enslavements you can impose on yourself is to deny yourself the freedom to enjoy, to be happy, to live.
But maybe she just doesn't like food, in which case she's not really denying herself, she's just stupid. (See, I told you guys I wouldn't stop writing about her!)
Seriously, though, think about the importance of Juneteenth. Enjoy your life. Embrace your freedom.