Today is JUNETEENTH! What’s that, you ask?


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Only this year do I realize that most people who aren’t black seem to have never heard of Juneteenth.  Well, maybe some have now, thanks to our ass of a President nearly desecrating it in Tulsa – now he’s typically congratulating himself for “making Juneteenth famous” even though he hadn’t heard of it himself, OR the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921:

“I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal. “It’s actually an important event, an important time. But nobody had ever heard of it.”

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you throw up in your mouth.

But I guess I’m lucky because I lived in Texas for six years – Austin, namely – and we knew a black dancer, Bashira, in East Austin – that’s the black half of town, east of the 35, and she explained it to me:  “That’s June 19, the commemoration of when slaves in Texas found out they were free – two years after the rest of the country already knew.  Because we’re so fucking stupid here in Texas.”

I thought that was a funny description, and I guess Bashira was burnt out on Juneteenth, because it happened every year, and was always a lot of work for her to put together.  But THIS is a special Juneteenth in 2020 – the first post-George Floyd Juneteenth, the first Juneteenth during a time that 75% of Americans finally understand and agree that “BLACK LIVES MATTER.”  So maybe this local professor can do it more justice than Bashira did 30 years ago:

#Juneteenth

Posted by Shelley Henderson on Wednesday, June 17, 2020

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Here are a couple of exciting Juneteenth events you can go to today, Donna and I are going to hit at least the first one:

and

But we want to get home by 7 for this live Facebook showing AND ZOOM discussion of the great Netflix documentary “The 13th.” 

Facebook event here.  

REGISTER HERE NOW

and Zoom here.  

From The Atlantic:
Ava DuVernay’s 13th (2016) is a documentary about how the Thirteenth Amendment led to mass incarceration in the United States, but it’s also a gorgeous, evocative, and maddening exploration of words: of their power, their roots, their permanence. It’s about those who wield those words and those made to kneel by them. Many Americans by now are familiar with the coded language of the country’s racial hegemony. Some shun certain words while others make anthems out of them.

The film opens with an analysis of the eponymous amendment: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.” 13th then spends over an hour and a half tracing the path from the clause between those two commas to the 2.2 million prisoners in the American justice system.

13th, out Friday on Netflix, compels viewers to sit upright, pay attention, and interrogate words in their most naked form as they’re analyzed and unpacked by DuVernay’s subjects, who include Angela Davis, Charles Rangel, and Henry Louis Gates. Sometimes the film confronts words in seemingly contradictory pairs: person/property, slave/freed person, labor force/prison workers. At other times it wrestles with oxymorons that target black Americans: truth in sentencing, war on drugs, tough on crime, law and order, minor crimes.

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About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.