Good Morning. Today is Juneteenth, the day we celebrate the final emancipation of slaves in the United States. On June 19, 1865, in Galveston, Texas, Gordon Granger announced orders from the federal government officially proclaiming the freedom of all enslaved people in Texas. By the letter of the law, slaves had been free for over two years, since the Emancipation Proclamation. But, just because we say it does not make it so…It wasn’t until there were enough forces to enforce freedom that the news of liberation became real in Texas. Action was required. That day has continued to be honored with celebrations, and of course, with good Texas Barbecue.
What does this have to do with mindfulness practice? For those following daily, mindfulness produces right heart. If one is truly taking in the world, compassion follows. Changing injustice is a natural consequence of awareness.
So for today’s mindfulness, it’s really appropriate to reflect on the holiday of Juneteenth. Although slaves were theoretically free (on paper) years before, without the enforceable proclamation on June 19th, slaves in Texas would not have been able to leave their owners.
We have a constitution that delineates rights for all, but as we can see from recent events, and from the stories and experiences recounted by Black people in the U.S., those rights are not equally applied. There is still much action needed in order to actualize the right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all people in our country.
Mindfulness practice asks us to begin work from within ourselves. So simply cultivating awareness, compassion, and acknowledgement of what was and what is will be the task today.
Sit upright, take a deep breath in and out, and look at the image below. This is the image of the official Juneteeth flag superimposed on the map of the United States. Look at it and reflect on what it means to truly be free and to truly be treated as equal under the law in our country. Simply ask yourself to be aware of the experience of others, taking it in without interpretation, taking it in with compassion. Think, has our constitution made it so, or is action required to make freedom real? Awareness in tiny moments is part of the transformation that we can make. By attending to what’s in front of us mindfully, we undo unconscious, implicit bias we have.