The time for lasting change is now

Juneteenth has just passed, the second since it became a national holiday in 2021. Connecticut has made it a state holiday as well, which will take effect next year. More than 150 years after emancipation of all the slaves in the United States happened, it’s about time there has finally been some national recognition of it.

For Black Americans, this is a time of acknowledgment of their long heritage in this country, which began in chains but evolved into their persevering in a continually racist environment to achieve so much against the odds. The strength and courage of their ancestors in fighting for their rights as citizens and humans should be inspiring to them, and to all. That fight continues, and all Americans should be part of it.

White Americans on Juneteenth should have paused their preconceived ideas of what their Black and brown neighbors contend with in society every day, and understand that they must encourage and take part in civic and social action to achieve a larger measure of change to lift all Americans up in a real way now.

All Americans need to think hard about how to change the way our systems are set up, and how they are stacked against Black and brown people. Because if change doesn’t take hold now, across waves of entrenched racism such as mass incarceration, abuse and violence by law enforcement and others, inequity in ability to borrow money, ability to own or rent homes, bias in employers’ hiring, equal access to higher education and on and on, it could be a last defining moment for our society.

While incremental change has made a difference in the lives of many Black and brown people and their families, such change is not enough. The future needs to be hopeful and hold promise for all Americans if this nation is to achieve lasting success in its third century of existence.

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