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The 2016 Juneteenth Parade begins near Manuel High School in Denver.

Source: Kathryn Scott Osler / Getty

On this Juneteenth, Freedom Day:

Whether you recently came to understand the full embrace of June 19th, or if you were wrapped in a badge that read “Miss Juneteenth,” our arms are locked around you.

I break every time I read Lucille Clifton’s “Won’t You Celebrate With Me,” when she writes, “celebrate with me that everyday something has tried to kill me and has failed.”

And maybe that is our gifted curse. How do we shelter from the inevitable? Living life in a body coated with oils and butters, relief from the drought. My Black body will not be used as a shield or weapon today. This body is what happens when love enters the space. A rightful choosing to exist and breathe because Oluwatoyin and Dominique couldn’t. And if Black women are held under, none of us are free. Without the source there is no subject.

Hence George couldn’t. Eric couldn’t. And it begat somewhere on the shores of Virginia in 1619.

I want to unleash the cries of our Galveston, Texas, ancestors who first learned of their freedom, left two years laboring in the inevitability that the stroke of a pen miles away in Washington could not ensure their safety.

Today my steps will be ordered like a deep bass line, representing the heartbeat of the ancestors who aren’t here. Who weren’t allowed to feed into joy.

I’m going to play Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Nina, Stevie, Aretha, Mary, Beyonce, and read James, Toni, Audre, Ta-Nehisi, and Sister Souljah. I will moan with every bite of mac and cheese, greens, and cornbread. I want to overdose in Blackness. I want it to offend.

I want to parade the names which are hard to pronounce. But speak them loudly with conviction. Showing all of my gleaming white teeth. I want to parade all of the names that we know and don’t know, who have suffered under the blinding slap of America again and again.

I’m going to swoop my edges, gathering all of this bountiful energy while my gold earrings kiss my shoulders. This is my liberty bell. To be in communion with all of you.

This Juneteenth and every day, I want—we want to live.

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