By Liz Copeland
This Juneteenth I heard an interview on international public radio with Mona Boyd, an African American who has thought broadly and deeply about civil rights in the USA. She moved to Ghana thirty years ago, and that has deeply affected her understanding of human rights. While some things she mentions – Juneteenth and police brutality – are being broadly discussed in America today, she also raises concerns that I suspect will never be investigated in mainstream media. For example, she shares her perspective that in a completely capitalistic system like the one she sees in America, a large number of citizens must be kept at the bottom.
When I reflect on the number of persons begging or sleeping on our country’s streets, I understand how brutal that bottom can be.
Boyd refers to other issues that complicate the current narrative. The narrative implies that the present attention to Juneteenth and police brutality is a watershed moment in American history – a transformative moment made possible now that millions of white people understand that African Americans, unlike themselves, must vigilantly view life through what Boyd refers to as the “lens of race.”
Given how very much Boyd covers in this short interview, it seems to me that quite a number of her statements could generate deep and thoughtful questions. The questions that emerged for me, a self-identified progressive, are as follows: What’s the dynamic between social justice and the creation of wealth? How much weight should be placed on economics in the struggle for civil rights? Where does Occupy Wall Street intersect with Black Lives Matter?
There is so much to think about in Mona Boyd’s five-minute interview! Click here to listen, and find out what questions arise in you: https://www.pri.org/stories/2020-06-19/african-american-ghana-says-making-juneteenth-federal-holiday-small-gesture-she