The JP UP Date: Juneteenth At Justine PETERSEN

Katie ArnoldThe JP UP date

Number 72                            June 19, 2020                                   St. Louis

Juneteenth at Justine PETERSEN
Juneteenth is most palpable this year for everyone across the globe.  Here at the Justine PETERSEN office in St. Louis, our first JP staff Listening and Healing Session was conducted under the guidance of Anthony Neal, Executive Director of the Center for Education Equity. JP staff members Shawna Collier and Randen Click are leading the effort to allow all JP staffers the opportunity to participate in a session where current events will be discussed and possible action steps outlined for attendees to begin to be agents of change in our society ridden with racial inequities.  Justine PETERSEN closed our office hours at 1:00 pm today, after the listening session, so that staff members may observe Juneteenth with family, friends and neighbors.
The Pandemic Diaries: Redefined

The Pandemic Diaries was a weekly reflection penned by individual Justine PETERSEN staff members in the style of journaling, chronicling the daily reality of working from home in the wake of Covid-19.  In light of us fighting the long entrenched pandemic of structural racism and inequality, the series will now include diary submissions reflecting on what it means to live in a world that is unjust, and what can and should be done for “cultural course correction.” This week’s diary entry is written by Randen Click, Housing Manager at Justine PETERSEN.  

When a baby cries, the mother’s first instinct is to find out why the baby is crying so she can stop the crying. There is no debate with her baby to decide if the cry is necessary. She will not include herself in her baby’s pain, saying “I HURT TOO! WE BOTH MATTER!” and she wouldn’t dare to ignore the baby and act as though the crying doesn’t exist.

Black men and women have been crying for the last 400 years, but America’s response is as though they are at the bottom of the ocean, and their cries can’t be heard. While one side of the country advocates with protest for equality and justice, the majority continues to ignore the systemic process that continues to place African Americans at bottom of the ocean.  They are willing to say “All lives Matter” but if this is true, what is the problem with saying Black Lives Matter? Should we not be able to uphold them both? “Blue Lives Matter.” There is no doubt about that.  But why does saying “Black Lives Matter” spew racial tensions?

As an African American male experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic, it is like I am experiencing multiple pandemics when I have to say the names such as Mike Brown, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many others because I can I identify and I am constantly recalled to my own racial profiling experiences. Have you ever been pulled over for having a car deodorizer hanging from your rearview mirror? Or have you been pulled over while driving through the streets of St. Louis County because your car tags were from another state? Or have you ever been pulled over with guns pointed at your face because you so happen to fit the black male description of an armed robber in a majority white suburb of Detroit Michigan, your car searched and your belongings thrown to the side of the road? Let me remind you that I was driving 30 miles per hour in the same area that the robbery was supposedly committed and after filing a report the very next day, I found through an officer friend of mine that there were no robberies reported in that area that night. Did those officers face consequences? I will never know. But these are just “some” of my own experiences.

As Housing Manager for Justine PETERSEN, I am motivated to continue the work that I do, providing families with education and guiding them in the process to achieve homeownership and building wealth. I am reminded that many African Americans families have fallen victim to the systemic oppression that has sparked protest all over the world because they lack access to wealth and resources.  This lets me know that I can make a difference because my work opposes the nature of this systemic oppression that America has chosen to ignore for centuries. At the same time, I continue to wonder when will America throw out life savers to African American families to bring them to the shore that makes them equal with every race? When will all of humanity, no matter the color of skin, matter? When will America say “Enough is Enough”?

Join JP Small Business Burger 809 for Father’s Day Celebration this Saturday, June 20!