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Month: June 2023

We are not in the same boat

Sometimes we need a perspective shift. A perspective shift means looking at things differently and opening up to new ways of understanding and seeing the world. It helps us gain a deeper and more enriched understanding of different aspects of life. It can also help us see how using a phrase like “We’re all in the same boat” might not be the best way to respond when people face a challenge.

Lingering effects of the pandemic

Nobody wants to dwell on the COVID-19 pandemic, but its lingering effects persist, affecting our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Delaware’s air quality has deteriorated due to smoke originating from wildfires in Canada. Consequently, individuals who never experienced breathing difficulties before COVID-19 find themselves struggling.

Furthermore, numerous young people endured years of hybrid or fully remote learning, resulting in disconnection from their peers and educators. We cannot underestimate the impact of isolation on mental health and productivity. Although our brains possess remarkable adaptability, transitioning can be challenging, particularly for those still developing cognitive reasoning and shaping identities. 

Researchers supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) conducted a small study with 64 teenagers between 13 and 17 years old. They discovered that the brains of these teenagers appeared to have undergone an average aging effect of approximately 3 years during a 10-month period of time. “This effect mirrors what is known to happen in teen brains after they are exposed to adversity or traumatic events.”

It’s tempting to declare that the pandemic is behind us and move forward, perhaps even forgetting about it. However, our world has undergone profound changes since the pre-COVID era, making forgetting an unrealistic option. Instead, we must recognize the transformations and be willing to adapt, evolve, and exhibit compassion towards ourselves and others, fostering patience and support.

Acknowledging individual differences

In life, we come across many common expressions, including the phrase “We’re all in the same boat,” often used when facing difficult situations.

Typically, this cliché emerges during times of adversity when a person in a leadership position seeks to reassure others that a collective effort will enable them to overcome the ordeal together. While the speaker’s intention behind employing this analogy is generally courteous, it is important to acknowledge that, in reality, each individual possesses their own unique circumstances and experiences, resulting in significantly diverse “boats.” 

While we may be navigating similar waters, the conditions and resources available to us are different. Just as people in different boats may face distinct challenges such as rough seas, strong currents, or limited supplies, individuals encounter diverse obstacles, advantages, and disadvantages based on their backgrounds, socio-economic status, education, upbringing, and personal circumstances.

Navigating challenges with awareness

Let’s face the fact that our boats are different. Solutions or approaches that work for one person may not be universally applicable. So, even when we might be facing similar challenges, our circumstances can be very different. It’s worth keeping this in mind as we navigate the stormy seas together.
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Juneteenth – A Day of Freedom

University of Delaware offices will be closed on Monday, June 19, in observance of Juneteenth.

Juneteenth, also known as Juneteenth Independence Day or Freedom Day, is an important holiday celebrated in the United States on June 19th each year. It commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans and represents a significant milestone in the nation’s history.

On June 19, 1865, in Galveston, Texas, Union General Gordon Granger arrived and issued General Order No. 3, bringing the news of emancipation to the enslaved people there. This marked the effective end of slavery in the United States, over two years after President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared freedom for all slaves in Confederate territory but had not been enforced in Texas.

Juneteenth’s connection to agriculture

Juneteenth has historical connections to agriculture, particularly in the context of the African American experience during slavery and its aftermath. Understanding this link sheds light on the significance of agriculture in shaping Juneteenth celebrations.

During the era of slavery, agriculture played a central role in the economy of the Southern United States. Enslaved African Americans were forced to work on plantations and farms, primarily cultivating crops such as cotton, tobacco, sugar cane, and rice. They endured grueling labor, often under harsh conditions, contributing to the prosperity of the agricultural industry.

Juneteenth holds particular significance as it marks the moment when enslaved people in Texas finally received news of their freedom, which had been legally granted more than two years earlier. This timing is notable because it coincided with the transition from slavery to a free labor system, where many newly emancipated individuals chose to work on farms and plantations as paid laborers or sharecroppers. Agriculture thus continued to be intimately tied to the lives and livelihoods of African Americans following emancipation.

After gaining their freedom, many African Americans faced economic challenges and limited opportunities for land ownership. Despite these obstacles, they utilized their agricultural skills and knowledge to cultivate their own crops and establish self-sustaining communities. Agriculture became a means of survival, empowerment, and a symbol of resilience in the face of adversity.

Making progress

The holiday has evolved and is now observed in various ways, including community gatherings, parades, picnics, family reunions, and educational events. It is a time to reflect on the struggles and achievements of African Americans, honor the legacy of those who fought for freedom, and celebrate the progress made towards racial equality.

Juneteenth is significant not only as a commemoration of the end of slavery but also as a reminder of the ongoing fight for equal rights and social justice. It serves as a symbol of resilience, unity, and the continued pursuit of freedom and equality for all.

There has been a growing recognition of Juneteenth’s importance in recent years. In 2021, Juneteenth was officially recognized as a federal holiday in the United States, following the passage of the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act.

Get involved

  • Attend the Freedom Parade and Festival kick-off in Rodney Square on Saturday, June 17, 2023 at 10 a.m., eventually culminating in a celebration of music, food and games at Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park.
  • Visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. There is an exhibit called Juneteenth: A Celebration of Resilience. It included the famous hymn “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” written in 1900 by NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson.

Part of the hymn is:
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us, 
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us; 
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun, 
Let us march on ’til victory is won.

James Weldon Johnson

By celebrating Juneteenth, individuals and communities aim to promote awareness, foster dialogue, and work towards a more inclusive society. It is an opportunity to learn about and acknowledge African Americans’ history, culture, and contributions, while also acknowledging the work that still needs to be done to achieve racial equity.

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As seen outside of UD’s Morris Library

Love is love, hate has no home here, all humans are legal, women's rights are human rights, black lives matter, diversity makes us stronger

This multi-story message is hanging on the side of Morris Library, facing the fountain area. It reads, “Hate has no home here, all humans are legal, women’s rights are human rights, black lives matter, love is love, religious freedom is a right, freedom to read is fundamental, social justice and equity for all, change starts from within, diversity makes us stronger.”

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National Caribbean American Heritage Month

In June 2005, the House of Representatives unanimously adopted H. Con. Res. 71, sponsored by Congresswoman Barbara Lee, recognizes the significance of Caribbean people and their descendants in the history and culture of the United States. President George W. Bush officially issued the Proclamation on June 6, 2006.

Since the declaration, the White House has issued an annual proclamation recognizing June as Caribbean-American Heritage Month. This year marks the fourteenth celebration of June as National Caribbean American Heritage Month.

During Caribbean-American Heritage Month, we celebrate the achievements and dreams of the millions of people of Caribbean origin now living in the United States while honoring the shared history of joy and perseverance that has united and enriched life across our region for centuries.

Caribbean Americans have made significant contributions to various fields, including politics, literature, music, and government. Here are some notable Caribbean Americans and their achievements:

  1. Alexander Hamilton: Born in the West Indies (specifically Nevis or St. Kitts), Alexander Hamilton was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He played a crucial role in the American Revolutionary War and later became the first Secretary of the Treasury, establishing the nation’s financial system.
  2. Colin Powell: Born in Harlem, New York, to Jamaican immigrant parents, Colin Powell had a remarkable military and political career. He served as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, becoming the highest-ranking military officer in the United States, and later became the first African American Secretary of State, serving under President George W. Bush.
  3. James Weldon Johnson: James Weldon Johnson was born in Jacksonville, Florida, to Bahamian parents. He was a prominent writer, poet, and civil rights activist. Johnson is best known for writing the lyrics to “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” often referred to as the Black National Anthem, which has become a significant cultural and historical symbol.
  4. Celia Cruz: Known as the “Queen of Salsa,” Celia Cruz was born in Havana, Cuba, and later became a naturalized U.S. citizen. She was a highly acclaimed and influential singer, known for her powerful voice and vibrant performances. Cruz played a crucial role in popularizing salsa music globally and became an icon within the Latin music industry.
  5. Shirley Chisholm: Shirley Chisholm was born in Brooklyn, New York, to parents from Barbados and Guyana. She made history as the first African American woman elected to Congress, serving in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1972, she became the first African American woman to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, breaking barriers and inspiring many with her trailblazing efforts.

These individuals, among many others, have left a lasting impact on American society and have helped shape the cultural, political, and artistic landscape of the United States. Their achievements serve as a testament to the diverse contributions of Caribbean Americans and their significant role in American history.

One of the most recognizable aspects of Caribbean culture is the region’s music. Although they have roots in both European and African cultures, the sounds of reggae, meringue, calypso, rumba and zouk music are distinctly Caribbean.

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service shared statistics about agriculture in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico in the images below.

USVI Agricultural Statistics from 2018 Ag Census
Agricultura de Puerto Rico - Censo de agricultura de 2017
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June is Pride Month

Pride Month is a month-long celebration recognizing the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer) community’s contributions to society. It is a time to acknowledge the challenges faced by this community and to stand in solidarity with their fight for equality, acceptance, and human rights.

According to the Library of Congress, Pride Month is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. In June of 1969, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn in New York City staged an uprising to resist the police harassment and persecution to which LGBT Americans were commonly subjected. This uprising marks the beginning of a movement to outlaw discriminatory laws and practices against LGBTQ+ Americans. The Stonewall Uprising was a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States.

Get involved

Fun fact
Typing “pride month” into the Google Search bar activates a digital celebration of confetti and rainbow color flags!

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