Lift ev’ry voice and sing, ‘Til earth and heaven ring, Ring with the harmonies of Liberty; Let our rejoicing rise High as the list’ning skies, Let it resound loud as the rolling sea. 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.
From “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson* *Also known as the “Black National Anthem”
Juneteenth began with a proclamation announcing freedom from slavery in my home state of Texas, and now it is an official US holiday.
It will be interesting to see what Wikipedia editors will say about this in their Juneteenth writeup. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juneteenth
Speaking of Wikipedia, recently I participated in the Black Lunch Table’s (BLT) Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon presented by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. BLT was founded in 2005 to “To mobilize a democratized (re)writing of history.” Specifically, this session was focused on Wikipedia, as according to the BLT, 84% of Wikipedia editors are male and 77% of Wikipedia editors are white. While I am a white male, I wanted to listen in and lend my support to BLT’s effort to ensure that history is accurate and supports critical dialogue that is important to our society as a whole. You can find out more about Black Lunch Table at https://blacklunchtable.com/ .
During this four-hour Saturday morning session, BLT experts helped a group of about 50 people across the world learn how to first register to become a Wikipedia editor and then how to get started as an editor, all with the mission of assessing and promoting accurate information about important global events. It felt invigorating to be part of a passionate group who is trying to make the world a better place. Due to my attendance at this session, I feel I am more empowered to always inquire: "Where am I getting my information from and how can I help?"
Thank you Black Lunch Table.
Speaking of a group who is already making the world a better place, I want to pay tribute to my father and all the Healthcare Heroes who kept us safe during the pandemic as they risked their lives to help others.
My father is a doctor; when I was 13 years old, I worked in the billing department in his office for my summer internship. While there, I pushed papers around and found out just how little Medicare paid for healthcare procedures. Perhaps all of the work with numbers and invoices led to my career in finance; although at that time, I wanted to be the next Axl Rose.
On my last day of the summer job, he took me on rounds at the hospital with him. We visited his patients in their hospital rooms, and they always looked pleased to see their doctor, as if him being there made everything ok. When I was gravely ill last summer, I was a patient in the very same hospital for a week, and now I can empathize with this reaction.
As we got off the elevator on the floor for his final patient visit of the day, we stopped at the nurse’s station, amidst all of the screens monitoring patients’ vital signs. All of a sudden, one of the monitor’s alarms went off. It turned out my dad’s patient was experiencing cardiac arrest at that very moment. We raced down the hall to the patient’s room. She was an elderly woman, and she was not breathing. My father and some nurses pulled her onto the floor and commenced to administer CPR. I was dressed in hospital scrubs, and I don’t know if the other nurses thought I was some Doogie Howser-style protégé, because they were yelling at me to get this and that apparatus to assist with the CPR. I had no idea what they were talking about, and I was frozen like a statue with my mouth open, horrified at the scene. In the end, my father and the nurses saved this woman’s life right in front of me. What a way to end a summer internship!
Let’s just say I felt I never had the courage to work in healthcare after witnessing that event, but I have always had a great deal of admiration for those who do.
My father is still part of the workforce, and during the COVID pandemic, my dad selflessly volunteered to administer vaccines to the general public for six hours every Sunday at a mass vaccination site.
Just recently, not even a month ago, we were driving in Dallas when we witnessed a horrific car accident occur right in front of us. We pulled over and my father administered medical assistance to one of the victims until the first responders arrived. He had this person’s blood all over his Saturday clothes, yet his equanimity in dealing with an intense situation inspired me to reflect that I constantly need to strive to be a better, more generous and more caring person to humanity.
My father and I didn’t always have the smoothest relationship by the way. Raised by disciplinarians, he also expected perfection from me. No doubt this helped me achieve success at a rapid rate in both my academic and professional endeavors, and I am incredibly grateful for all the wisdom he has imparted to me. However, my personal ambition also led to me being very critical of myself, which caused significant stress throughout my decades-long career in finance.
Nowadays, as I make significant changes in both my personal and professional lives, I try to approach life with a more pleasant sense of purpose. I work at being mindful about criticism: both of myself and of others. Finally, I am reminded that each and every one of us is part of a global community, and that we can inspire each other. That gives me hope for the future.
So, as you hopefully are with family this weekend, remember that we all have our strengths and weaknesses, yet we all are special individuals who can help make the world a better place. Go ahead and raise your voice and sing.
Thank you for everything, Dad, and to all the Dads out there, Happy Father's Day.
Please connect and follow the BRAND NEW Social Musings by Austin at https://www.instagram.com/socialmusingsbyaustin/. You can find Social Musings-related content there, which is not available anywhere else.