Happy Juneteenth! The Fight for Black Liberation Continues.
By: Joy D. Calloway, Interim President & CEO, Planned Parenthood of Greater New York
June 19, 2022, is the 157th observance and 2nd federal holiday observance of Juneteenth, a special day to celebrate Black liberation and Black joy! It’s also a day that represents the continued delay of justice for Black people in this country, and a call to renew our commitment to confronting anti-Black racism and fighting for true Black liberation.
On June 19, 1865, in Galveston, Texas, almost two and half years after the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation was issued, enslaved African Americans in Texas were the last to finally be informed of their liberation from slavery. Juneteenth is commemorated across the nation through community-wide cultural celebrations, discussions and reflections, spiritual services, educational events, and family gatherings.
While Juneteenth is intended to be celebratory, it, unfortunately, arrives amidst multiple crises that inflict harm on Black communities. With terrorist attacks by white supremacists, police brutality, the COVID-19 pandemic, economic injustice, state-imposed abortion bans, and the impending Supreme Court decision on abortion, the fight for Black freedom very much continues. Until Black people can go to the grocery store, go to church, walk down the street, shape our own families, and access basic health care without the threat of racism or violence, we will not be free.
As health care providers, educators, and advocates, we know that Black liberation must include abortion justice and full reproductive justice. No one can be truly free without the ability to control their own bodies, lives, and futures. We see firsthand how Black lives and livelihoods are deeply affected by the long-ranging consequences of slavery and the ever-present racism in the health care system, including through the constant barrage of attacks on abortion access.
At the precipice of the fall of Roe, it is past time for us to listen. To think about how those most harmed by abortion restrictions are rarely those centered and supported in fixing it and to consider how we — as a historically white institution — show up in this fight. We must reflect on what it means to act in solidarity with Black communities whose approach to policy, organizing, and goals of mutual liberation may be outside the realm of what we have historically centered.
In order to move forward and dismantle systems of white supremacy, we must take ownership of our current situation, face it boldly without fear or fragility, and hold one another accountable for identifying and interrupting racist practices that continue to harm Black communities.
True solidarity means that we believe and take action on the reality that we are not free until we are all free.