Just two weeks ago, I attended a Juneteenth celebration listening to the amazing Ms. Fay Williams, the last living founding board member of the Indianapolis Urban League. She discussed how her family would celebrate Juneteenth during her childhood. The holiday was one of her favorite memories, so she decided to do some additional research on her family.
Her family, labeled as cargo, was brought over from Africa to Galveston, Texas. Yes, you read that correctly, cargo! There were some enslaved people who were worth more than others — it simply depended on their area of expertise. Some slaves were worth $150, and others $500. Ms. Fay’s story brought tears to my eyes, as it caused me to reflect on my own late grandmother, her experience as a young lady growing up in the 1930s and 1940s, and what she experienced. How was her life controlled during that era? What type of racism and/or sexism did she face? And now, she’s no longer here, and with all the racist and sexist acts that have transpired over the past few years, I wish I could have those conversations with her.
Not too long after that experience with Ms. Fay, Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court. Again, another act of control. So, what about the women who did not consent to sexual intercourse, or who are victims of incest? How do we protect these women? Will there be other health care services to help women through this trauma, or are we just expected to deal with it? How does this impact the men who take advantage of the women in our country? Will women’s voices be taken more seriously to indict these men? What happens to the children who are a byproduct of rape? America, are we prepared to deal with the repercussions and mental health services that these children will need? There are so many other reasons why women seek abortions, a plethora of other what-ifs and so many perspectives about whether it’s right or wrong. But I digress.
There have been and continue to be many scenarios of control between these two moments in history — interracial marriage, voting rights, same-sex marriage, contraception, and driving, walking and running while Black. People are human. Humans have the right to make their own decisions. In fact, God made us all equal and has given us the liberty to make our own choices in this thing called life. Sure, there are consequences, good and bad, for our decisions, but they’re our decisions. So, America, it’s time for you to step aside, mind your business and let people be human. This is the land of the free and the home of the brave, right?
I read this quote on my friend’s social media the day the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which pretty much sums up the control issue in the United States. “Our government is bold enough to force you to have a kid but too weak to ensure they make it to recess alive.” Make it make sense, America! It’s time to refocus. We’re tired.
Leslie Nicole Smith is an executive in higher ed administration, a motivator and a community leader.