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The Spirit of Juneteenth

Author:

Manatita is an esteemed author living in London, UK. He writes spiritual books, flash fiction and esoteric poetry, his favourite genre.

The Triangular Passage

the-spirit-of-juneteenth

The Middle Passage

The Trans Atlantic Slave Trade, also known as the Middle Passage, due to its route, was predominantly the trafficking of enslaved Africans, from as early as the 15th century, mainly between Europe and the Americas.

Figures vary, but it is said by some historians, that nearly 30 million of the enslaved died across this route, taken from their homes in raids on Africa, initially by the Portuguese as early as 1536, although enslavement itself started in Africa began as early as the 15th century and it is said that even the Romans kept slaves.

The enslaved were used for quick profits springing from greed and the production of labour for sugar, wine, cotton-picking and other rich enterprises in those times. Of course when a people is being taken, treated cruelly and exploited in such huge numbers, rebellion will arise and many Africans never made it to the shores of their predators.

In the early nineteenth century, moves were made to free the enslaved and somewhere in the 21st century, a few governments apologised, for the atrocities performed in nearly 500 years of struggle by the African diaspora for freedom.

My poem depicts the celebration and hopes of the African-Americans to remove their chains, but more than that, the Spirit of a people who refused to be broken in their quest for the core values of American life, so aptly indicated by Thomas Jefferson and the Founding Fathers of America.

Atlantic slave trade - Wikipedia

An enslaved auction in South Carolina 1796

An enslaved auction in South Carolina 1796

The Spirit of Juneteenth

The next time you’re insulted, told you’ve

Got a Jamaican name because You’re

Called Leroy, Donovan or Abraham, say it’s

Untrue, rather that you’re a product of 600

Years of colonialism, bigotry, inequity and injustice.


The next time that someone calls you a

Slave, or, even worse, a ‘freed slave’, say

That the unborn shows no evidence of

Shackles and chains; no neck-collars and

Thumb-screws, such as those forced on

Your African ancestors, who were all

Freely delivered from their mother’s wombs.


Perhaps you can remind them of the forced

Enslavement, the indignity of The Trans-Atlantic

Journeys, of the strong and stately African people,

Drifting helplessly between life and death, huddled

Together by heartless, hostile and greedy

Predators; packed like sardines on overcrowded ships.

Africans aboard ship during the Middle Passage

The Middle Passage

The Middle Passage

Yet we must Love; even as the indigo moon

Covers the night with its luminance, so too, we

Must not only rise as the radiant dawn, but make

Room for the sunset, kissing the crimson edge of

The horizon. For only thus can we share our neighbours’

Joy, even as we despise the darkness of their evil ways.


Human ignorance has harmed us for centuries! They

Came from the Dynasty’s, powerful Empires,

Babylonians and even an Adam in the Garden of Eden,

Allured by the red nakedness he so erroneously believed

To be synergised, with the throbbing of his heart.


Today African-Americans celebrate Juneteenth –a portmanteau of

June and nineteenth – even while still searching for justice; Lincoln’s

Proclamation spoke of a liberty of sorts, which is yet to materialize.

Yet it’s a significant step for the soul to celebrate: to pray;

Tell stories of our history much too intense, for the comfort

Of some of our neighbourly brothers and sisters. For Joe Biden

To finally create history, by declaring Juneteenth a Federal Holiday.


African-Americans dance to rhythm and blues, laugh with our

Children over fireside treats – like the griots did – talk of Kunta

Kinte and Kambi Bolongo, the river, enjoy rodeos, sing negro

Spirituals woven in the blood and hopes of our forefathers.


Yet we remember, that some three years after

The Proclamation, some 32 years after it was

Passed in Britain 1833, we were still far from so called

Freedom, still cotton-picking for our oppressors; still

Segregated by Jim Crow style laws; punished for daring

To mention our legal right to celebrate this great Jubilee;

To determine the path of our own future.


There was still no voting; no eating with whites; different

Water fountains, schools and parks to name a few. Yet

Juneteenth, more than Independence Day, implies freedom

For all and what a Government chooses to honour and

Celebrate, should normally speak to its core values:


“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all

Are created equal, that we are endowed by our

Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among

These are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”


Is our enslavement over? The yoke of the knee of bigotry

Still pierces our hearts, even as gentrification and disparity

Forces us into ghettos, causes us to gather like sheep,

While the privileged few, ensures that we have minimal

Impact in an endemic system, tainted by greed, corruption;

Complacency and mistrust.


The long mountainous path to Freedom continues,

Across an unfeeling razors corridor, still crowded

With dark ghouls; the avarice of power games, denied

By Love, for still trying to conceal our Spirits … in coffins.


- Lantern Carrier, 11th June, 2021.

Thoughts on Slavery

© 2021 manatita44

Comments

manatita44 (author) from london on July 04, 2021:

Yes correct! Many Aupairs tell stories of how they are treated by rich Europeans which are terrible! Some Africans go to work for rich middle Eastern countries and are treated badly there too. Some barely escape! Thank you!

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on July 04, 2021:

A powerful and beautiful poem reflecting the spirit of Juneteenth. The terrible state of the slaves and how they were treated is barbaric. We are still faraway from achieving freedom for all humans on earth.

manatita44 (author) from london on July 03, 2021:

I thank you my Bhaiaji. It was a very cruel period in history. Still, while I feel the necessity for awareness, the creators of this problem is still here: greed, name and fame accompanied by insecurity and callous humans stretching way back in creation. We need to Love ... to see a oneness-family of mankind.Om Shanti

MG Singh emge from Singapore on July 03, 2021:

This was a very touching article I have some idea about the nefarious slave trade and took time off to go to see the slave Castle in Ghana. It was a terrible visit and I could understand the agony of the black man who has been a slave for almost 6 centuries. Slavery may have gone but discrimination still continues and more so in the United States. Who is responsible for it and how did this slave trade continue for so many centuries? This was oppression at its worst and the church and the white man, not forgetting the Arabs who were the middleman, have not yet paid the price for what they did.

manatita44 (author) from london on July 02, 2021:

Yes, yes. You have caught the Spirit of it! We have to do the work of Love

manatita44 (author) from london on July 02, 2021:

Africa naturally has its own history. But the Romans had slaves and they also existed before. Big bullies - as in school - have always taken advantage of smaller ones, who would themselves be bullies if the opportunity arose.

Human ignorance, or let us say, inherent weaknesses are the cause. Part of life's struggle. I put this out there and naturally we would all perceive it differently. Barabbas went to the Christ for help to overthrown the Romans, who were themselves tyrants, as most Empires are, but Christ taught the way of Love and oneness. Ultimately, this is my message.

Rodric Anthony Johnson from Surprise, Arizona on July 02, 2021:

I LOVE how your poem captures so many different aspects of the African experience in colonial Europe. Juneteenth is a celebration of one government's recognition of freedom that God has given to all humans. It is a step towards the truth that all people are free. We must stop enslaving each other. One day, I pray soon, I have faith we will learn to be meek with each other. Thanks for this article.

Rodric Anthony Johnson from Surprise, Arizona on July 02, 2021:

manatita44, you wrote "enslavement itself started in Africa began as early as the 15th century.." Did you mean the 15th century BCE? I am still reading so, this is not my final comment.

manatita44 (author) from london on July 02, 2021:

Haha.

Sweet, charming! Let us hope.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on July 02, 2021:

Manatita, this is a very powerful piece. From the history of enslavement, to bringing the emotions of those enslaved to life, to the roller coaster from hope to oppression and back again, this piece brings awareness to the horrid ways of colonialism.

I'll never understand how certain peoples have been, and continues to this day, deemed lesser than human. Or perhaps I should say lesser than white. I'll never understand the mindset or the justification.

I love what Misbah said about the only time colors should be separated is when doing laundry. Simple, right?

Kudos for this, Manatita. It's very important and I hope, timely. I think we still have a long way to go, though.

manatita44 (author) from london on July 02, 2021:

Ultimately we have no say. We spin on a Web fashioned by the pendulum itself. Always in motion, liked a skilled river, it floods the banks as necessary, taking the sediments of life with it; preening the weeds, before finally arriving, into the Ocean of the great Unknown. Great comment. Thank you!

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on July 01, 2021:

Lincoln himself did have slaves, but I'd like to think he treated them a bit better.

This is a wonderful poem.

I just wish all people would understand that we are all created equal.

Many white peolle are held responsible for what happened centuries ago, while we were not even alive at the time.

We shouldn't be punished for what our ancestors did, nor should we treat anyone as it happened in the past.

Nice one.

manatita44 (author) from london on July 01, 2021:

That subject came up when I was reciting my poem. It was by an African American. She gave a history of the injustices and why they preferred to be called African Americans. I have found identity to be a big thing before blacks can move on.

After all, it's been probably 500 years beginning with the Portuguese. No need to go into it, but I have heard white Americans say that Enslavement was one of the most barbaric of injustices and subjugation of human rights known to man in the Western world. Yet we are still lecturing poor countries on human rights.

Jefferson was extremely spiritual and a visionary. Sometimes we live and act according to complex times. Martin Luther King JNR contributed so much, but again he too, was criticized for so much! We are dealing with human nature, including ours and life is not like drinking water.

Just chatting, Doris, it is a very complex subject, made worse by the endemic suppression and many Europeans who really believed they were superior and lived in what India would call the Kali Yuga (Dark Cycle).

Yet I am more the Christ kind than the Barabbas. We have nothing for Hitler and Stalin, but folks have been giving their lives for Christ and Buddha for centuries! So Love transcends. Love you, my Sweet.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on July 01, 2021:

A timely poem, food for thought. Many people laud Lincoln for "freeing the slaves". However, he wrote the Emancipation Proclamation as a slap at the Confederacy because it freed only the slaves in the Confederate states. The Union states of Missouri, Kentucky, Delaware and Maryland were allowed to keep theirs. Congress passed the 14th Amendment that freed all the slaves in this country, so they should get the credit. I think a lot of our white fathers like Washington and Jefferson turned a blind eye to the plight of our black brethren. I long for the day when people are color blind. I have a wonderful black friend who claims that she is color blind, but she insists on being called "African American." I would never asked to be called "European American."

manatita44 (author) from london on July 01, 2021:

I dont know. Lincoln did a proclamation but some say he kept slaves. Jefferson gave so much to humanity

, yet some say he had slaves. To me they were spiritual giants! Sometimes it is difficult to judge past centuries! Gratitude.

manatita44 (author) from london on July 01, 2021:

Yes. You have shown us some of his works. A noble soul! Thanks Peggy!

manatita44 (author) from london on July 01, 2021:

A lot here Misbah. You are trying to speed Love, like me. God speed!

manatita44 (author) from london on July 01, 2021:

Indeed Amara, indeed! Always a joy to see you!

Amara from Pakistan on July 01, 2021:

A thought provoking article Manatita. Its always a pleasure to read your work. Gratitude.

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Poets on July 01, 2021:

What a Beautiful hub, Bro. I think, the best way to overcome racism is to recognize that the world is full of colors and that accepting them is the best thing to do. We all are one and unity is strength.

I don't remember where but I have read it somewhere that there is only one place where separating colors makes sense, and that is laundry; let's not do it with people.... let's just Love everyone. Freedom Day is about freeing our minds from thoughts and things that prevent us from achieving success in life. Great hub! Thanks for spreading Love.

Blessings and Peace

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 01, 2021:

We have a local artist Charles Criner who did a series of posters celebrating Juneteenth. It was at Ashton Villa in Galveston, Texas, that freedom for slaves became known years after the Emancipation Proclamation. True freedom for everyone still have a way to go to become a reality.

EK Jadoon from Abbottabad Pakistan on July 01, 2021:

Salam Manatita,

Very inspiring piece by your side. Thanks to those who took part in abolishing of slavery. But I am still still confused that why many philosophers like Aristotle were in favor of slavery. If they had spoken out against slavery in those days, it probably wouldn't have happened.

stay safe and healthy...

manatita44 (author) from london on July 01, 2021:

Chuckle. The bigger problem is human ignorace. Europeans fought amongst themselves for wealth long before the Africans, various Empires were fighting long ago. The Seers speak of Love and others speak of fighting the system. It is a complex world with Love as the answer. Let us pray that wisdom dawns

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on July 01, 2021:

I meant to say I don't want us to be divided anymore. Decided was a typo by arthritic fingers. I have been thinking about your article all morning as it is very touching. To think slavery still happens in some countries is reprehensible. No man or woman should ever be a slave.

manatita44 (author) from london on July 01, 2021:

Yes, Joe Biden has taken it a step further and even before, we were making progress. One needs to understand greed, colonialism, Ignorance and a lack of virtues (The same that killed Christ), in order to empathise.

It is happening slowly but human consciousness revolves so slowly. Let us hope, but be happy. God is always merciful. Praise be!

Marlene Bertrand from USA on July 01, 2021:

My great grandfather was a slave man. It is significant in my mind that it wasn't so long ago that slavery was a prominent thing among my people. While we have celebrated Juneteenth for many years, this year my daughter called with glee to say her company gave her the day off from work because Juneteenth is a federal holiday. Your article is filled with enlightenment. I enjoyed reading it very much.

manatita44 (author) from london on July 01, 2021:

I hear that Ruanda is doing an awesome Job in Africa, They have merged all into one people and while there seems to be some work yet to do, they have definitely come a long way! I share your views, of course. Peace!

manatita44 (author) from london on July 01, 2021:

Chuckle.

I don't usually put these here. They are usually for performance poetry on Memorial Day, Juneteenth, Black History Month and so forth, with poems to suit.

Thank you so much for the read. An understanding of why others can be stuck in an endemic cycle is more than useful. Peace.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 01, 2021:

A masterpiece, my friend, one of your best. There is food for thought in this, enough to feed a man for days. Being a white, privileged man, I have much work to do in educating myself about the struggles of others. Thank you for feeding me and blessings always.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on July 01, 2021:

This is a very good article and I am glad we now celebrate Juneteenth. I think your poem is very good, of course. Your message is excellent.

I do look forward to a day where we are not known as black-Americans, Chinese American or white-Americans. I hope we come together and are just all Americans. I don't want us to be decided.

manatita44 (author) from london on July 01, 2021:

Nice one, Devika.

You're a great soul. Thank you for your views.

Dee, thank you! Our ancestors followed our Caribbean roots, as you know. A fabulous sentiment from you!

Rosina,

Thank you! I was celebrating Juneteenth. I have other Black History Day poems where I cover the Indians, Aztecs, etc. Colonialism touched so many countries! Same reasons: Greed and lust for power ... human ignorance believing that separation is a good thing. It isn't! Much Love.

Rosina S Khan on July 01, 2021:

A great and lovely tribute to African Americans and about enslavement. You cover all kinds of people in your poetry which makes them really special and unique. Thanks for sharing another wonderful contribution, Manatita.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on July 01, 2021:

This article is definitely a keepsake. Thanks for putting all this good information and deep thoughts together. You created a historical, sentimental, humanitarian masterpiece. Well done, Manatita.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on July 01, 2021:

I think it is a great idea to celebrate Juneteenth. Just to think about those times makes me think more of how much has changed. Your hub is wonderful and so well-thought of about Juneteenth. We are all the same and culture is what keeps us apart.

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