After Hours Disc 1: Juneteenth by Dr. Chandler Puritty

After Hours at Thread Spun is a series that aims to reflect our values of education, expression, and empowerment.  We hope that these upcoming stories spark thought-provoking discussions and inspire you to be the change you want to see in the world.

After Hours 6.19.21
Discussion 1: Juneteenth
by Dr. Chandler Puritty

Hi Hello and Happy Juneteenth. 

My name is Dr. Chandler Puritty and I am a proud Encinitas resident. As someone who was raised in predominately white spaces, it wasn’t until I was a student at Howard University that I had even heard about Juneteenth. June 19th 1865, celebrating the day that enslaved people in Galveston Texas heard the news of their emancipation nearly 3 years after President Lincolns Emancipation Proclamation in 1862. Juneteenth is a celebration of Black joy and resilience while also representing the introduction of a new perspective and narrative of emancipation. There is never only one truth. All enslaved peoples were not freed in 1862 and even today, systemic racism continues to poison the lives of people who look like me. I’ve written many versions of this piece, most were very angry. Today, on this day of Black joy and truth, I want to talk share my perspective/narrative of living in Encinitas as a black woman.

Thread Spun After Hours | Educate | Local Story | Dr. Chandler Puritty | Photo: Kimlien Le

After my graduation from Howard, I immediately moved from Washington DC, chocolate city, to La Jolla, California for my PhD. The nice way to put it is that I went through extreme culture shock. As someone raised in white spaces, I had always dealt with racism but I didn’t really understand why I was treated differently. After spending 4 years in a space where everyone looked like me, returning to predominately white spaces was very painful. I was suddenly so much more aware of how differently I was treated by people who didn’t look like me and why (this beautiful brown skin of course). After a couple of years, I took my first trip to Encinitas to buy a tarot deck and I fell in love. From then, it has always been my dream to live in this beautiful paradise. I assumed that a community founded upon the work and teachings of an Indian man, centering spirituality and outwardly progressive would be the exception to the rule when it came to living in white spaces. When George Floyd was murdered, I was deeply moved by the community response and felt I had made the right choice. Unfortunately, since then I have been deeply disappointed by this community. 

 

Let me be clear, your activism last year changed nothing for me in my real life as a black woman. I still feel my heart in my throat when I see a police car or even a car that resembles one. I still struggle to find myself in programming, tarot decks and offerings in the community. I still feel very much alone and vulnerable. Now let me be clear, just because California didn’t have plantations and you may have voted for Obama (twice even) doesn’t mean that we are free from racism. In fact, I have found that the toxic positivity and tendency toward colorblindness mean that racism is even freer to wreak havoc. Though I was born in California, I was raised in the bible belt of the country where KKK flyers on your car after the state fair is the norm. It may sound strange, but San Diego is still a more racist space based on my experiences. The ignorance runs rampant. 

 

If you truly believe that we are all equal souls, then I beg you to acknowledge that people who look like me live drastically different lives and to make it your responsibility to do anything you can to rectify it. While I appreciate the Black Lives Matter signs (truly, I do) true ally ship is radical and uncomfortable. I was recently deeply disappointed by an Encinitas community I had come to love. I wasn’t hurt by the one bad actor, I was hurt by the people who claim to love me who responded with complicit silence. I beg you to listen to our experiences and hold your (non-black) people accountable. Please say something to them if you see something. I’m too tired to defend my humanity and I don’t believe that I should have to. I know that a lot of you like to imagine that you are anti-racist but true anti-racism requires action and the best way to think of it would maybe be to think of reverse-racism. Black people in America have been continually robbed of resources and rest, anything that you can do to return resources and relieve me of labor goes a very long way. I don’t want to think that your commitment to being anti-racist is constrained by your comfort but that’s certainly how I feel. 

 

I want to be clear that I wouldn’t be having this conversation if I didn’t trust and fully believe that Encinitas truly does have the potential to change and become the supportive space for people of color that you seem to believe that it is and that’s why I’m holding you to a higher standard, with love. Juneteenth is a day for Black joy and rest for me so if you see me out, drunk, please mind your business or send me a shot. It is not however a day of celebration for non-black people and the best way to honor and support us this weekend is to continue to do the work. 

*also pay us for our labor, emotional and otherwise.

*I nor any single black person has the power to speak on behalf of an entire community and I thank you for taking the time to listen to my perspective. 

*if you appreciated this piece, feel free to venmo me @Chandler-Puritty. I also take cashapp $ChandlerPuritty 

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