Reflecting on Juneteenth
Written by Renee Harriston
We live in a flourishing diverse world. Different races, ethnicities, genders, and nationalities all represent single humanity. Yet on any given day, breaking news of unthinkable inhumane attacks bombard us.
As meditation practitioners, these attacks jolt the very foundation that we profess to live. The horrific violence against one another is nothing new.
What definition of the Eight Limbs of Yoga has this violence not assaulted?
These eight steps are our morality, ethical codes of conduct, and the discipline of sharing our space on earth that no doubt belongs to all of humanity. We have evolved as a community. However, we will not succeed until the whole has succeeded; so rest, knowing there is no end to your effort, no matter what community you serve. Everyone's trauma, every perception is different and rooted in personal experiences that I could never be so presumptuous to know.
What do I know? The philosophical and physical practice of meditation builds pathways to one another, and as we listen and share experiences, the enlightenment begins.
Juneteenth would not exist without slavery, and I mourn slavery every day. When I try to forget, the violence in the black community, the drug abuse, the misguided parental leadership, the raging mental illness, the knee on George Floyd's neck reminds me. I don't get the opportunity to forgive or even heal; I live a flight or fight existence because when I do begin to forgive, to heal, history repeats itself. I can't catch up.
Healing requires truth - about the daily challenges we face as well as our pasts. Slavery for African Americans was nowhere near bondage of servitude without pay. It was kidnapping, imprisonment in filthy conditions, rape, incest, murder, torture, mutilation, discrimination, no education, and no healthcare—a lot of low-hanging fruit. To heal from generational trauma, we must admit that it exists.
We know as meditation educators where the traumatized genes of America's slaves live today. How brave are we? We take what we know as practitioners, and we try to heal 400 hundred years of horrific, inhumane violence against people who the color of their skin can only identify.
We're 156 years in, and I still hold on to the same heartfelt faith my ancestors had when the last family of slaves was free on June 19, 1865. There is hope.
Renee Harriston is an accomplished Journalist and Yoga Therapist candidate at Prema Yoga Institute.