Juneteenth and Critical Race Theory: A Head Scratching Conundrum!

QuestionI fully admit, every time “Juneteenth” comes around, I have to look up the word and the history to make sure someone is not pulling my leg.  For those like me, Juneteenth is the celebration of the emancipation of slaves in Texas from 19 June 1865.  Apparently, President Biden just made the day an Official U.S. Holiday, the first since Martin Luther King Day in the early 1980s.  There are times I feel like, for all the work I invest in knowing what is happening, I am still living under a rock.

Included at the bottom of this article are references to the source materials and knowledge gleaned.  Unless explicitly linked, the references below can support both my questions and my conclusions.  Feel free to expand your mind and read; be warned, though, once your mind expands, it can never go back!

The historical celebrations of Juneteenth included prayer, new clothes, hymn singing, and expressions of gratitude regarding being made free.  A celebration of freedom by slaves in America also included food.  I have never seen race; plain and simple truth!  Your choice of race is your business; how you act and live is more important than race, culture, creed, religion, handicap, and gender to me.  While working on my MBA degree, I was introduced to two concepts, critical race theory and the fact that the United Nations claims race and culture are a conscious choice.

WhyIf the United Nations can claim that a person’s race is a choice, then I am an American.  I am not distinguished by color, several colors, or even my history.  As a point of reference, America was set up that way for a reason; it releases people from bondage to not be judged by their family, their financial circumstances, historical tribal connections, color, or any other line of separation.  When America as a “Melting Pot” was described to me in school, I cheered because it meant I am not the sum of my family’s actions!

Then along comes Critical Race Theory, and my mind took a sudden jolt.  Critical Race Theory is a loosely organized intellectual movement based upon a shaky legal framework and premise claiming that race is not a natural, biological, or physical distinction separating subgroups of humans.  The intellectualists embrace Critical Race Theory and attempt to make race a sociological invention to oppress other people.  They further adhere to an almost religious belief that America is inherently racist, especially to African Americans.

Question 3Here is where my brain disconnects, the questions asked are honest, and I would appreciate dialog without emotion to attempt to answer the following questions:

    1. If the United Nations is correct, and race is a choice, how does Critical Race Theory have any followers and adherents?
        • Since race is my personal choice, I can be any race I choose, regardless of skin tones, speech, mannerisms, etc. How can anyone claim to be oppressed by another race?
        • How can race be an issue if race is a sociological construct?
        • Under the Rule of Law, there is no distinction of race. The lady of law has a blindfold for a reason, so she cannot judge by sight, only by hearing, and weigh the results on the scale.  Where is the legal justification for Critical Race Theory?
    2. Is Juneteenth a celebration just for black people? If so, doesn’t this upend the Critical Race Theorists?  If not, then what is Juneteenth historically?
        • If Juneteenth is a celebration of liberty, why did we need another holiday when the 4th of July celebrates freedom?
        • When considering people’s kept as slaves across history, race becomes an interesting variable if race is not a choice but a biological, physical, and method of sub-grouping humans. Africa has seen a lot of periods where one tribe conquers another, and the conquered became slaves.  The same pattern has been witnessed across all the different tribes, countries, and human species throughout world history.  Does this mean that Critical Race Theory was just proven invalid as a concept?
    3. If Juneteenth is a holiday only for those emancipated from slavery, does this mean others cannot celebrate humans ending forced servitude?Bob Marley
    4. Why is Critical Race Theory all about black oppression? Didn’t the American Indians have it much worse than black people in early-American history?  Where is the holiday for the American Indians being freed from reservations, empowered, and promoted as a distinct culture worthy of respect and study?
        • Wait, if the United Nations’ supposition is true, that culture and race are a choice, does this mean that the laws against and for American Indians are now in question and under doubt?
        • What about other indigenous tribes across the world facing brutal oppression? Are those laws invalid due to the United Nations or due to Critical Race Theory?
        • Which minority groups are “more equal” and “deserving” than other minority groups under the Critical Race Theory? Why the distinction if race is a choice and not a biological, physical, or cultural tribal distinction in human sub-groups?
    5. Since the American Indians owned slaves, why are the Critical Race Theorists attacking white people only?
        • If the United Nations is correct, then those purporting to be Critical Race Theorists are broadcasting their ignorance by adhering to a group that pushes a lie about race being a factor, right?Commit

I need to understand something, and history, as well as archeology, supports the following:

“White slavery pre-dates black slavery in America. This fact has been verified by forensic evidence from archaeological digs and historical documents uncovered by contemporary scholars, including Don Jordan and Michael Walsh in White Cargo (New York University Press: 2009).”

The stories behind white slavery, indentured servitude, and other means of conveying the purchase and abuse of people are incredibly heartbreaking.  What man has done to their fellow man through all of recorded history is appalling.  Trying to further that oppression through Critical Race Theory is despicable on a level I can not describe.  Yet, what do we see, Critical Race Theorists doing precisely that, getting a person to choose a race, then choose to allow themselves to be victimized and oppressed because of their choice to join a culture, tribe, or race.

Knowledge Check!Hence, my conundrum!  If we accept that race, culture, creed, and religion are choices made by humans without compulsory means, what is Critical Race Theory talking about and preaching?  If we refuse the belief that race, tribe, and culture are not choices, then we still have a logical disconnect between Critical Race Theorists and the history of civilization.  The Critical Race Theorists seem to be missing the forest for the bark they are stuck seeing.  Unfortunately, I still do not understand most holidays, since I prefer to work than rest, I do not need to know to understand the holiday, just save me some food.

Slavery References

Davis, J.B. “Slavery in the Cherokee Nation.”
Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. 11, No. 4. December 1993.

Gates Jr., Henry Louis. “Did Black People Own Slaves?”
The Root. 4 March 2013.

Gates Jr., Henry Louis. “How Many Slaves Landed in the U.S.?”
The Root. 6 January 2014.

Hall, Kermit L. The Oxford Companion to American Law.
New York: Oxford University Press USA, 2002. ISBN 0-195-08878-6.

Halliburton Jr., R. “Free Black Owners of Slaves: A Reappraisal of the Woodson Thesis.”
The South Carolina Historical Magazine, Vol. 76, No. 3. July 1975.

Johnson, Michael P., and Roark, James L. Black Masters: A Free Family of Color in the Old South.
New York: W. W. Norton, 1986. ISBN 0-393-30314-4.

Mintz, Steven. African-American Voices: A Documentary Reader, 1619-1877.
New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2009. ISBN 1-444-31077-1.

Rodriguez, Junius P. The Historical Encyclopedia of World Slavery.
Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 1997. ISBN 0-874-36885-5.

Russell, John Henderson. The Free Negro in Virginia, 1619-1865.
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1913. ISBN 1-480-03049-X.

Walton, Hanes and Smith, Robert C. American Politics and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom.
London: Routledge, 2015. ISBN 1-317-35045-6.

Critical Race Theory Reference

Crenshaw, K., Gotanda, N., Peller, G., & Thomas, K. (1995). Critical race theory. The Key Writings that Formed the Movement. New York, 276-291.

Delgado, R., & Stefancic, J. (2017). Critical race theory: An introduction (3rd ed.). NYU Press.

Juneteenth References

Donovan, A., & De Bres, K. (2006). Foods of freedom: Juneteenth as a culinary tourist attraction. Tourism Review International, 9(4), 379-389.

Ellison, R. (2021). Juneteenth. Modern Library.

Taylor, C. A. (2002). Juneteenth: A celebration of freedom. Open Hand Publishing, LLC.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

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msalis1

Dual service military veteran. Possess an MBA in Global Management and a Masters degree in Adult Education and Training. Pursuing a PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Business professional with depth of experience in logistics, supply chain management, and call centers.

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