Juneteenth has come and gone, but now is the most opportune time to pause and reflect on the meaning and significance of this great occasion. Most certainly, Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration marking the "official" end of slavery. Enough can't be said for the tremendous efforts put forth in acknowledging and giving much-deserved recognition to the tremendous travails, struggles and sacrifices experienced by our subjugated ancestors.
However, there does seem to have been something missing: We are allowing a golden opportunity to slip by in not using this date to remind proponents of the n-word as to why the term needs to be banned, abolished from the vocabulary of all African Americans, never again to flow from the lips of Blacks towards other Blacks — to be buried forever.
Before we were humanized, we were categorized as "n**gers:" a sub-human, three-fifths of a human being. Thus, this categorizing justified the dehumanizing, butchering and slaughtering of our ancestors. They were looked upon as innately inferior — a thing to be despised and disrespected; branded as bestial and savage, fit by nature for involuntary servitude; and considered ordained by God Himself for perpetual enslavement.
Proponents of the n-word are unknowingly spitting on the graves of their ancestors, slapping them in the face by defiling their sacred memories through embracing a word that embedded terror, fear, and total and complete chaos into their hearts and minds.
On Juneteenth, I heard one young man holler to another, "Happy n**ger day" in a jovial tone. When I heard the young man make this comment, a fire bolt of disgust boomeranged from point to point throughout my body. I was not completely removed by the fact that he used the term, although that was a fast-following second point of contempt, my primary issue was the fact that he could refer to such a day that earmarks almost four hundred years of struggle and scorn as if it's okay and acceptable.
No race of people on the face of this earth fit the n-word description — nor has there ever been, and for any Black person who finds this term acceptable to themselves and their progenitors is nothing short of certifying that the brainwashing job the White world perpetuated on the minds of many members of the Black race was a resounding success.
Embracing the n-word is comparable to supporting and sanctioning all the brutal beatings, raping, slaughtering, butchering and heinous killings carried out on our subjugated forefathers. For every lash of flagrant punishment — physical and mental — struck upon our progenitors' backs, for every rope of hate looped around their necks, for every woman and child unrightfully violated and molested, for each man mercilessly sodomized with hot pokers, and to each and every man and woman burned and boiled to the core while still breathing, proponents who have embraced the n-word have unknowingly and by proxy placed their stamp of approval on all of these malevolent and heinous acts.
Clearly, there are many who may support and participate in Juneteenth celebrations, yet think nothing of using the n-word. In such an instance, that act is nothing more than an effrontery to the hallowed and revered memories of our forefathers. And, the greatest travesty of all: We acknowledge and celebrate Juneteenth, June 19, 1865, as the date that the last of the slaves were finally set FREE. But yet, 143 years later, we are still mentally enslaved to a word that was a symbol of oppression, defilement, inferiority, degradation, and immorality —
Juneteenth, with all that it signifies, is an excellent time to demonstrate and rejoice in our true freedom — or, on the contrary, exhibit our continued acceptance of mental enslavement. We have a full year to reflect on this enigma and determine how to best proceed toward its resolve. Juneteenth is a day to reflect on the memories of our ancestors, embody the spirit of perseverance and victory, and do all that we can to walk in the path of dignity, respect, and honor our forefathers dreamed of, relentlessly fought and gave their lives for. How will you celebrate your next Juneteenth?
H. Lewis Smith is the founder and president of UVCC, the United Voices for a Common Cause, Inc.