Jenna Z Hermans Chaos to Calm Blog - juneteenth

What Juneteenth Means in 2021

As the US is moving to be more conscious of our historic and current racism, this Juneteenth feels extra meaningful. Here are some thoughts and concepts that could help make things better for ALL humans.

Today on Juneteenth, we commemorate the emancipation of those who were enslaved in the United States.

As a Jewish white woman, I cannot fathom the racism that the BIPOC community has and continues to endure.

Research has proven that trauma lives in DNA. We genetically pass down traumatic experiences to future generations. I feel this firsthand as a Jewish woman, living with fear of rising antisemitism. The question, “Could it happen again?” is a regular topic of conversation in the Jewish community. And the answer is always “yes.” Especially in our society’s current state. 

Although my blood bears the weight of my enslaved ancestors, I myself have not experienced the repression that the Black community has. Unlike my black friends, my Judaism isn’t spelled across my face or noticed by passersby. It’s not even necessarily noticeable in my given name. I have the privilege of “blending in.” 

Others don’t.

Although there are no longer slaves in the U.S. as of June 19, 1865, the Black community is still enslaved by systemic racism in our policies, laws, government, and communities.

What we can do

In order to change, we can’t just treat everyone equally, we need to treat each other with understanding and mindfulness of their history. On Juneteenth, and on EVERY day.

We need to STOP judging those who may not have the same skin color genetics as us. STOP old mental models that the under-served and unfamiliar are somehow undeserving or inferior.

START remembering that humans are humans. We start off the same and end the same, from womb to ground.

Treat every child as though they are your own. Treat every elder as though they are your ancestor. Those from different cultures and communities are our biggest teachers.

START learning from each other. Ask questions. LISTEN to the answers. Keep an open heart and open mind. Don’t worry about asking the “wrong” question. It is better to ask than avoid.

START educating yourself by reading, watching, and listening to books, articles, interviews, documentaries, films, podcasts, and more

We still have racism and bigotry in this country. And until every single person is treated equitably and with respect, we still have work to do.

More calm will be achieved in your heart as we become more self-aware, understanding, and compassionate. When we all can identify ourselves as human and see everyone around us as the same: human. Taking away any judgments and assumptions. 

I invite you to clear your mind from what you may have been told about any group of people and instead, experience every person individually. 

We are all brothers and sisters and cousins on this planet. A family of billions. What a gift!

Click here for racial injustice information and resources

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This post was updated in June 2023.

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