Celebrating Juneteenth here in Portugal

Portugal so far has been short on what Americans would consider Social Justice. We witnessed one pro-Hamas march on a Lisbon synagogue and the number of participants (about 50) was a tiny percentage of the Lisbon metro area population (nearly 3 million). The pro-Hamas encampment at the University of Coimbra was also poorly attended (and they let a dog walk on the sacred Palestinian flag; see future post). Our almost-9-year-old’s sharp eyes spotted a single rainbow flag, rather faded, above a bar in Lisbon (i.e., that’s one rainbow flag in a 10-day period). At Portugal dos Pequenitos, a theme park of miniature houses and architectural monuments designed to delight children, the Portuguese “voyages of discovery” are presented as great achievements, not as pernicious precursors to slavery and colonization:

Does all of the above mean that I am not participating in Juneteenth? Au contraire, as they say in Lisbon! Today I tried to return a phone call from John Hancock regarding my 90-year-old mom’s insurance. I turned on my Xfinity Mobile SIM ($10 per day of usage, with a meagre 0.5 GB data allotment that one will blow through in less than a day of using Google Maps, uploading a few photos, etc.) and called John Hancock. I spent about 15 minutes dealing with their automated system before an attempt was made to connect me with a human. My reward was a recording: “Our offices are closed today in observance of Juneteenth” (this became a new paid day off for government workers in 2021; see “Biden Signs Law Making Juneteenth a Federal Holiday” (NYT)).

Readers: How did you observe Juneteenth? Were you obstructed in any of your attempts to be productive?

Here’s Joe Biden crediting Black Americans as having “led the march from slavery to freedom”, but weren’t the relevant marches for Juneteenth led by Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman? Is he saying that Grant and Sherman identified as “Black”?


A video of the “Free Palestine” march on the synagogue in Lisbon that was around the corner from our hotel:

11 thoughts on “Celebrating Juneteenth here in Portugal

  1. The apartment parking was packed today. The neighbors are all gubment employees. The only workers are plumbers & blog commenters.

  2. I think this would be a wonderful opportunity to pause for a moment and give thanks for the many great contributions of the black community and their culture to our society.
    Their peaceful and generous nature makes them ideal neighbors, lending testimony to their exceptional family values and parenting skills unrivaled by any other culture.
    Their commitment to academic excellence enriches our schools and serves as an example to all who hope to achieve prominence as a people.
    Real estate values are fueled by the influx of African Americans into an area due to their caring and respectful nurturing of these communities, as an example of all they have achieved by their enthusiasm for self-improvement through hard work and a self-reliant can-do nature.
    African American international reputation for self restraint, boundless patience and superior non-violent conflict resolution skills is legendary across the globe.
    Without their industrious and creative drive, we would be poorer as a nation.

  3. I’m surprised to read that you did not see many rainbow flags in Portugal. The country scores very well on the map created by an organization called ILGA Europe. According to its Rainbow Map (see below), Portugal is a much more tolerant and progressive country than apparently intolerant Switzerland (?). Could it be that Europeans are simply less inclined to fly flags? In the US, we are used to seeing all kinds of flags. People fly flags at their homes, often displaying symbols whose meanings escape me. They fly flags to sell things and to declare their support for ideas or causes. In Europe, most flags are displayed on official buildings.


  4. Finally a day to celebrate Republican victory over Democrats in 1865. Republican should party in 2024 as in 1865.
    Had a couple of lechaims with Caribbean 90-proof rum. Do not now any directly Juneteenth – related drinks.
    Is march on houses of religious worship a thing in Portugal? Noticed that march participation was limited. Was it during siesta? Know some great hard-working people from Portugal. For some reason they seem to be attracted to American “liberals”.

  5. Maybe the average educated Portuguese person remembers Osama Bin Laden complaining about the loss of Al-Andalus enough that there’s not as much sympathy for Arab revanchism as there is in the rest of the west.

  6. I was entering the municipal mercado in Lagos, Portugal when the woman ahead of me started upbraiding a Gypsy standing there. My Portuguese is meagre but I did catch something to the effect of “I work for a living, why don’t you?” The short answer is that Gypsies live to gull the gadjo — and that’s been their culture for thousands of years.

    I never saw street people in the provincial towns in the north, nor in the tourist towns in the south. A few in the capital, but nothing like the encampments that adorn LA, Portland or SF. Supposedly union strikes interrupt train service, but when we rode the Porto-Lisbon express it topped out at 222 kph on the cabin display. This in a country with the per capita GDP of Puerto Rico.

    Why can’t we have nice things?

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and aver that the Lusitanians are hard-headed and have an intact culture that goes back to the fall of Rome and before. They were huge slavers in Brazil but I doubt reparations are in the cards.

    Is the Romani “gadjo” etymologically related to the Japanese “gaijin”? Evidently not.

  7. A European friend mentioned during her visit here that Americans sure love their flags.

    “Dr” Phil:

    I’m sure you are raising a righteous kid, training to be on the lookout for (and make fun of?) rainbow flags. I’m busy teaching my kid calculus, programming, etc. Thanks for the insight into the teachings of a right-wing-addled-mind parent. I doubt my similarly aged kid even knows what a rainbow flag represents.

    • Mike: It takes a village, as America’s wisest female noted, to raise a Rainbow-aware child. Our kids were introduced to the official U.S. religion by righteous neighbors in Maskachusetts, not by us. (Neighbors’ yards were crammed with expressions of love for the Black and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people who did not and likely would never live in our town.) #LoveIsLove even when you pay an extra $1 million for a house so that you won’t have to live anywhere near the people whom you say that you love.

  8. Is it possible to buy a local SIM card? I’m not in Portugal but elsewhere in Europe and I pay less than $20 per month and get 20 GB data. (On a miser’s subscription, I should add.)

    • Tom: I bought a Vodaphone travel SIM for this trip. I think it is 30 days and 20 GB then about 2 euro/GB for extra data. But sometimes I need to be calling from my U.S. number for authentication.

  9. Since my Big company did not give us Juneteenth as a day off, this messed me up big time and I end putting the trash out a day early!

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