By Nick Nobel
June 19, 2020

Greetings UTCOP Family,

Allow me to begin with Happy Juneteenth! As a Black woman born in America, I nor do the members of my family, typically work on Juneteenth, as it is a day yet to be recognized as a national holiday worthy of the commemoration it deserves. Ordinarily, we engage in educational and culturally affirming activities among members of community that honor my ancestors and our rich cultural heritage. However, I yielded that practice today with the understanding that this message needed to be shared and shared today without delay.

I hope that this day of celebration around Black emancipation from slavery two and half years AFTER President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, is one that results in continued reflection, remembrance, and active solidarity. This message of emancipation was finally brought to the shores of Galveston, TX on June 19, 1865 and thus, resulted in Jubliee Day, a day now more commonly known as Juneteenth!

For many of us, this week has been a week of hope, much needed hope. It began with the Supreme Court of the United States extending protections of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to also prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. This was a major victory for our LGBTQIA sisters, brothers, and siblings, and thus, a victory for us all. Then, hope dared to continue when the Supreme Court decided to continue to provide beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program continued protections without fear of deportation, at least for now. I exhaled for the first time in weeks and allowed myself to “breathe in” hope.  These messages of hope are not solely political ones. They are affirmations of humanity.  Messages that insist on the visibility of ALL people, particularly those who’ve been historically marginalized, that deserve to be seen, heard, respected, and protected. 

As a student, believer, and actualizer of intersectionality, I do not doubt that these victories are inextricably linked to a movement that insists on Black Lives Matter(ing) and justice being achieved. I know this with a high degree of resolution, because I understand that as our humanity is tethered to one another, so are the liberties and oppressions we experience. In that, when Black lives, Queer lives, Immigrant lives, and the many more lives rendered to the margins are FREE and finally MATTER, ALL lives will matter. Until then, I will exhale with measured hope.

Love and light, UTCOP fam…

Warmest Regards,
Skyller Walkes, Ph.D.