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Freedom and Grief

I wrote this after a wave of immense sadness hit me on Juneteenth.  

A Black Power fist is raised, a shackle around the wrist is crumbling, in the background the American flag is etched with red, green, and yellow.  The word free is in white with the word ish in red, green, and yellow.  The word Juneteenth is at the bottom, also in red, green, and yellow lettering.
Image from Atlanta Vinyl

Today we celebrate freedom

That's what the white folks think

In reality, today we grapple with the grief of partial freedom while finding joy in how far we've come

We carry the weight of those who came before us, we walk amongst each other carrying the scars of oppression woven into our DNA, passed down through generations

DNA that calls us to fight, to persevere in the face of immense odds,

to love,

to dance,

to thrive 

We hold on to pride, hoping it will scream louder than the rage, the pain, and the grief 

So much grief

We mourn in our homes, in our churches, in our hearts for those we'll never know but whose will to live brought us to today and for those whose names sit attached to hashtags forever living as examples of how far we still have to go

Today they'll have think pieces and company-approved ads to show how much they care

Tomorrow they'll look past us, past our continual struggles 

Past our grief, past our longing to thrive freely without fear

But we will carry it all in our hips that sway to the beat, in our hair that coils when the rain baptizes us, upon our flesh that's kissed by the sun itself

The grief flows through all of who we are

Continuing to push us forward 


Because the pain of those who came before is our pain, their fight is our fight

Freedom-ish has come at a price and our grief is the reminder that we aren't at the mountaintop yet, but we have the bloodlines to get us there


Through the pain and strife 


Until excellence isn’t the barometer for our humanity 


Until our joy is the only sound we hear 




Copyright (c) 2024 Rayven Holmes

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