I recently read from Toni Morrison, about relying on imagination when narrating about lives enslaved. About how imaginations can make enslaved people thrive despite their circumstances. About how it can also make life hopeful despite the hurdles in advance. Life for enslaved people were dire, desolate, despairing, and full of dread. Imaginations is the only place where freedom truly existed. At least for us the living at a time when celebrating Juneteenth is finally a federal holiday. That enslaved people could celebrate this day seems unreal but it’s real, though denied for centuries. So imaginations are all we have left. And so I imagine the following.
On this day 156 years ago, there is a dance you will dance knowing you are free. I imagine that’s what enslaved people did on Juneteenth day: Enslaved people danced. A hopeful stance. They reveled in trance. Savoring every chance. To finally rain dance. Finally dream dance. Finally ghost dance. Finally war dance. Finally bend and snap dance. Finally ballet dance. Finally tap dance. Finally sun dance. And finally folk dance. As they finally lifted themselves up despite all the hurdles in advance.
I imagine they danced all sorts of dance, because they were free. In place of their dire, desolate, despairing and dreadful state, they danced, to make it easy to forget they were still enslaved despite being free. We still carry their scares even today. So for me, even though freedom still seems far, I will keep dancing like they did on the first Juneteenth day and beyond. We are still the pleasant dreams of our ancestors. The stories they passed on. Of a time when dreams won’t be denied or hopes ignored. We still have miles to go.
But for today, for them, we dance. A hopeful stance. We too revel in trance. We savor every chance. We rain dance. We dream dance. We ghost dance. We war dance. We bend and snap dance. We ballet dance. We tap dance. We sun dance. And we folk dance. We lift us up despite the hurdles in advance. For them we keep dancing. (Inspired by Toni Morrison’s The Origin of Others).