Sam and Emma host Robin D.G. Kelley, professor of American History at UCLA, to discuss Juneteenth, observed today. First, however, Sam and Emma dive into Gustavo Petro’s victory in Colombia’s presidential election over a mayoral tycoon, Melanchon’s coalition topping Macron’s (and both being beaten out by LePen’s), Iowa’s Supreme Court overturning the state constitution’s protection of abortion rights, and the outright refusal of liberals to hold any ranking Republican accountable for the stochastic terrorism that led to 1/6. Then, they’re joined by Professor Kelley as he first tackles the classic story behind the holiday, celebrating the arrival of Union forces in Galveston Texas to deliver the good news of emancipation, supposedly marking the official end of slavery in the US, and contrasts this with the way Black folks in Texas celebrated this moment, referring to it as a “jubilee” and a recognition of their divine sovereignty over their own life and land, as they look forwards to right to vote and the promise of reconstruction. Continuing off this, Kelley, Sam, and Emma discuss the actual history of the emancipation proclamation as leaving out some 450k enslaved people, the actual freedom of these people coming through their own agency and fight as they flocked to help union forces, and the role Texas played as a haven for slave owners escaping this “tyranny.” After touching on the continuation of this fight, with the right’s bulwark against history and the liberals’ own erasure in favor of uplifting a fallacy of unity, Professor Kelley dives into celebrating Juneteenth in a way that genuinely raises these issues and views this date as the start of a new war for reconstruction, working towards the reparations and decolonization that were seen in the promise of reconstruction, and expanding it to fights for indigenous people from Palestine to the US. Then they expand the discussion to the relationship between racism and capitalism (or just racial capitalism), how the birth of this economic system occurred in a European society that centered on racial and gendered differences for social delineations, and thus had access to a mode of thinking that legitimized the exploitation of “lesser” people. Next, they look to the development of capitalism in the United States, and how it built up white patrimony to deceive the majority of white Americans, and patriotism and nationalism for the rest, indoctrinating them into a world where racial and ethnic hierarchy are standards, before they wrap up the interview by emphasizing that class struggle is not colorblind, anti-racism is not anti-class, and that to truly fight these powers and live up to the promise of Juneteenth’s jubilee, we have to simultaneously take on these overlapping systems.
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