The need to thrive in toxic times

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A photo of a band at the 1900 Juneteenth celebration at Eastwoods Park in Austin, TX. Photo credit: Grace Murray Stephenson, Austin History Center, pica 05481

On June 19th, I was looking for local activities or celebrations that could introduce my daughters to Juneteenth, the occasion on which Texans learned of the Emancipation Proclamation two years after it was decreed. While browsing my Facebook feed, I instead came across the news story about Charleena Lyles, a black woman who was shot by police inside her own home in front of her children after calling the police because she believed her house was being broken into.

Suddenly, I didn’t feel safe in my own home, and I knew that no matter how many positive interactions I have had with police officers, I would forever hesitate to call them in situations when other people would not. Not because every police officer is evil, but because every person in the United States bears the burden of our culture’s racial programming, which teaches us to fear black people. Anyone who has not done the hard, constant work to decolonize their mind might, in the crucial few seconds it takes to decide whether or not to shoot, lets their fear of a black person overtake them. Even if that black person is a mother in front of her children. With this addition to the long list of state violence against black people, my interest in celebrating the promise of equality that Juneteenth represents felt stale. …


Autumn Allen

Autumn is an educator, lifelong student, writer, and children’s literature aficionado.

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