Writer: Dr. Dwayne Dyce
Founder/CEO - Education Solutions International Inc (ESI)
Today, we celebrate a double – Juneteenth or otherwise known as Freedom Day and Father’s Day. As for Father’s Day, we remember the people who represent paternal models in our lives. We should thank the fathers who are always present for their children and encourage the ones who are trying to be better at fathering their children. They need our encouragement in a hopeful spirit that they will only develop mindset and stature as models we can all be proud of.
There are still children without fathers. Like many of those without fathers, I am very grateful for my grandfather, Stafford Leung who was always present throughout my formidable years. His guidance and training help me with practical solutions even to this day. I still remember his teachings about inches, feet, and yards when I was 8 years old while being his assistant woodcutter on our farm. He taught me how to measure using the joints of my fingers and my arms. There were others who were role models for me, and I am very grateful to them for their significant contribution to my development.
Today we are also reminded of the fight for freedom through the remembrance of Juneteenth. Though Juneteenth has been celebrated as far back as 1865, we still have much work to do in the name of freedom. Our people continue to struggle through societal prejudices, policies, and laws that are hindering them from enjoying equal rights and liberty. With all the progress that has been made over the years, today, we are still advocating for educational opportunities, healthcare, and social services such as security, financial assistance, and employment opportunities. These basic needs are supposed to be a part of the societal structure for all.
We are still fighting against systemic racism, which seems so difficult to stem since it is entrenched in all our social and leadership structures. Bob Marley reminded us in his song Chase Those Crazy Baldheads Out of Town, that it was “… my people who slaved for this country, … we built your penitentiary, we built your schools.” Now, we are here to share in the “investment” of our people that was not given to them for the work they did for centuries. Despite the daily struggles, we have come a long way with certain opportunities. The important part of Juneteenth is our understanding of freedom. We need to own our God-given right to freedom. It is not owned by anyone. It is a gift that we ensure our children understand, as well. Freedom does not entertain the ideas of prejudice and limitations regardless of what others may think or say. It is within the grasp of all and not limited to certain classes or races. We should not have to ask for freedom or beg another to set us free. Freedom is for all regardless of what the history of slavery taught us. Malcolm X puts it clearly during a 1964 interview: “Anytime you beg another man to set you free, you’ll never be free. Freedom is something that you have to do for yourself.” Our ancestors paid for freedom with their lives.
We have to live our lives with purpose and the intention to be whatever we can be. As we live and make decisions, think of the fact that we owe it to our ancestors to rid ourselves of mental slavery, to take off the shackles of procrastination and fear to do what is right for our children, to get involved in social discourses to make big changes, and to pull ourselves out of the social media addiction. Other forms of mental slavery involve our disrespect for time by not managing our time properly, harboring negative thoughts about ourselves, and finding excuses for not showing up for our children. Our fight now is to live in awareness by keeping our intellectual eyes wide open while cultivating a mindset of true freedom from mental slavery.