Good morning everyone.
For Juneteenth, here is a simple fact about me: I was born in Toronto on June 14, 1962. On the day of my birth, my parents’ marriage was illegal in sixteen US states: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
I have spent my life living the reality that to a large part of America, I am evidence that my parents committed a great crime.
I have spent my life living the reality that a large part of America, abhors me just for being me.
I have spent my life living the reality that a large part of America did everything in their power to prevent people like me from even existing.
I now spend my life living the overwhelming reality that America the institution–its leadership and its instruments of power–abhors me and welcomes a return to the time when people like my parents could be lynched without consequence.
This reality is not history in a book. It is my lived experience. It is my living experience.
Slavery was made illegal in 1865, but the struggle continues. The laws that made my existence a felony were ruled unconstitutional in 1967, but the struggle continues. It is such a simple thing to hope for: To be born, grow up, and even grow old, knowing that your right to exist is accepted without debate and division.
Thank you for reading this. I send my heartfelt thanks to everyone working for change today.