This essay, ‘Juneteenth Reminds us of Persisting Healthcare Inequities’ originally ran in The Tennessean’s Juneteenth essay series, which invited Black leaders and influencers to share their thoughts on lessons learned and lessons yet to be learned. Chardae Foster, clinical trials intern at Clinical Research Associates, Inc, contributed by sharing her family’s experience with cancer and what is driving her to pursue her medical degree at Meharry Medical College. The original story is on The Tennessean’s website here.
“This Juneteenth feels different.” These are the words that I tell myself as we approach the new national holiday according to a law signed by Joe Biden this time last year.
Though this day is meant to be a day to commemorate the end of slavery, I challenge Americans to recognize Juneteenth as a day of hope that we end a more modern-day slavery.
Today’s bondage of Black Americans is no longer characterized by whips, chains, and white’s only pies, but unequal access to healthcare systems, education, and employment, among many other forms of systematic oppression.
The recognition of Juneteenth as a national holiday came amidst the George Floyd tragedy, a time of much despair within the Black community.
The first time we observed Juneteenth as a federal holiday, it did not feel like much of a celebration as I reflected upon George Floyd’s death and the countless lives lost within my community.
For a while, even during the protests, I had difficulty believing that Black lives mattered to anyone. But this year Juneteenth is different. Today, I see George Floyd as not just another Black man held at the mercy of corrupt authority but a son, a friend, and a father.
This last point makes this Juneteenth unique to me as this formerly neglected holiday has landed on Father’s Day.
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