Chapter XXXVII – Juneteenth Vacation
I am Jude. Like the rest of the world the pandemic has precluded my wife and I from any international travel. That is until now.
I am thrilled to be on our first extended vacation in over three years.
My preferred destination remains the Southern United States, despite the liberal Covid measures, the former Trump administration and the current climate of intolerance and divisiveness.
The people are phenomenal, the weather is great and it is steeped in contemporary Afrikan American culture. States like Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana have unique histories of settlement, resistance, emancipation and civil rights.
I can visit hallowed places like the Whitney Plantation, the African American Legacy Museum, the Tuskegee Airmen National Historical Site and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. They are sacred ground to me.
I can walk around HBCU campuses, connect with Black academics and professionals and pursue the specific types of entertainment I enjoy.
I can meet new interesting and like minded individuals, engage in meaningful conversations and experience Black culture on a grand scale.
These interactions and events provide meaningful opportunities to validate and affirm my Blackness.
There is power in seeing Black influence and affluence everywhere. At one cultural event, several black judges were present, as was North Miami Beach’s first female black police chief and a host of Black elected officials from city commissioners to congressmen/women.
And if that wasn’t enough, a local Black lawyer and community advocate was given the key to the city.
When you grow up in an era when race and racism framed your everyday experience, ‘otherness’ becomes a natural consequence of how you define yourself. Entering spaces that validate your Blackness and basic humanity challenges that internal narrative. In fact, it changes the game.
Representation matters. It normalizes Black excellence.
We chose the date to correspond with Juneteenth events and the International Black Film festival in South Beach. However, this trip to the South was even more purposeful. It was planned with the intent to visit family in Florida following my father’s unexpected passing earlier in the year.
And I’m glad we did.
I got an opportunity to spend time with all of my father’s remaining siblings and learn a little bit more about each of their inspirational life stories. All of these remarkable individuals were born in the small rural community of Charlottesville, Tobago and every one of them left the island to create better lives for themselves and their families.
It is a testament to their parents’ hard work and belief in education but it is also a direct reflection of their vision, work ethic and desire for something more.
It’s funny, both of my paternal aunts had careers in nursing and one is still an active RN even in her 70’s. I also have three female first cousins(The Three C’s) who are all nurse practitioners and both my sister and daughter are nurses in Canada.
The trip to Florida exceeded my expectations. I also became more familiar with the cities of Orlando, Tampa Bay and Miami and experienced Juneteenth celebrations associated with the national holiday.
More importantly, I reconnected with family and strengthened some important relationships while I was there. In fact, I’m already planning how and when I can get back to visit them again.
I know that my father is happy about that.
Side Hustle – Unshackled Solutions Life Coaching and Consulting
The Unshackled Health & Wellness Program for adolescents begins on Tuesday June 21st. The six-week mental and fitness ‘boot camp’ still has spots available.
The goal of the program is to encourage local youth between the ages of 13-18 to adopt a healthier lifestyle through physical activity, mindfulness and personal development.
Each week there will be three 40 minute engagement sessions; two of these will be active in-person group workouts at Victoria Park on Tuesdays and Thursday at 6pm and the other will be an interactive virtual session through Zoom on Wednesdays at 8pm
Cost – $300/child. Payable through e-transfer or Paypal.
This program is open to all adolescents regardless of their fitness level. We are committed to providing each participant with effective tools and strategies to support their physical and mental wellness. It is our desire to motivate these youth to Break Free from any self-imposed limitations and encourage them to Be Better versions of themselves.
Please contact Jude Clyke at (902)957-0602 or Joanne Jarvis-Jordan at (902)305-6512 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
You Next Best Read – The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
This is another fantastic read. Essentially, it considers the circumstances that lead to extreme success. The author focuses on the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful and asks the question: what makes high-achievers different?
“His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band. “
The book provided context to some of the remarkable achievements of so-called ‘outliers’. It considers circumstances, opportunity and culture as critical factors in determining success in contrast to individual genius and personal work ethic.
The author proposes that 10,000 hours of practice is required to master a skill, even for prodigies like Mozart, Bill Gates, and the Beatles.
These individuals all worked hard to achieve success. However, they also benefited from unexpected opportunities they did not create that provided them with a unique advantage.
This is truly Your Next Best Read, especially if you are a parent or are open to a new perspective about the contributing factors of high achievement. It was enlightening for me.
Positive Reflections – What’s Good?
The Juneteenth Highlights
We attended an event entitled Juneteenth University in North Miami Beach. It was hosted by Luke Campbell formerly from the Two Live Crew and featured high school drumline and university stepping competitions.
A high school drumline out of Fort Lauderdale was the only band not from the Miami area and seemed to be the underdogs.
They were also the only group that appeared to bring a coach with them. This brother didn’t say a word. He simply came out, ensured everyone else was positioned properly and returned to the side of the stage.
He didn’t make another move until they were finished. And he didn’t need to – this group was different. They tore shit up!
From the snares to the big bass drums, everything was ridiculously on point. They put on a Per-Form-Ance!
And get this, the standout performers were the cymbalists, Yes I said it – the cymbalists stole the show. At one point they had the cymbals spinning on the damn stage. I’ve never seen anything like it before. I loved the creativity and energy. They were the hands down winners and crowd favorites.
And it gets better.The following evening we attended the ‘Juneteenth Experience’ at a bandshell in North Beach. It showcased a supremely talented troupe of African American performers who sang, danced, recited spoken word for two and half hours.
They captured the essence of Juneteenth in their inspirational and interpretive performance.
We also went to a DJ Nice concert headlined by Fat Joe, and featuring Mace and El Debarge after being gifted tickets from a random couple we met. We didn’t stay very long but got a chance to step back in time and Lean Back before we left.
These types of spaces and places fill me up. They always leave me feeling more alive and affirmed. The fellowship and familiarity are comfortable and resonate with something deep inside me.
However, these specific offerings also attempted to educate while they entertained. They were unapologetically political. There were voter registration drives to challenge the current Republican state government and an effort to bring awareness of the complex issues confronting diverse and marginalized communities in Florida
We failed to set foot on any of the beautiful beaches in Miami. There was no laying out in the sun, shopping or getting twisted on the strip. Instead, we drove bikes, attended cultural events, went to museums and got familiar with North Miami Beach with its huge immigrant population.
And that was more than enough for me.
Just so you know.
Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States. Juneteenth marks the anniversary of the announcement of General Order No. 3 by Union Army general Gordon Granger on June 19, 1865, proclaiming freedom for enslaved people in Texas.
Sadly, that proclamation had to be made by Union soldiers two years after slaves were emancipated in 1863 because white slave owners in Texas refused to manumit their slaves.
Although Black Americans have been celebrating Juneteenth since the 1800’s, it finally became a Federal holiday in 2021 following the nationwide protests that resulted from the police killings of unarmed Blacks including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
Juneteenth provides an opportunity for us to consider the meaning of FREEDOM in relation to African Americans and Afrikans throughout the Diaspora.
However, it’s not just a holiday for Black people in the United States, everyone should observe it. We should all consider the realities of person’s of African descent throughout the world and challenge anti-Black racism everywhere. I am Jude.