Growing up and living in a 90+% white community means we haven't talked much about Juneteenth until now. We don't discuss what it represents and why it's a significant marker in our history, and still today.
I just googled if there are K-12 education standards about teaching Juneteenth and see that even in 2020 it's (maybe) a blip in the conversations had in schools about slavery emancipation and significance within the black community throughout the country.
Short, very abbreviated history...
Juneteenth is the recognition of June 19th, 1865 when enslaved Texans learned they'd be free. The original date comes two months after Robert E. Lee's surrender of the Civil War, and two and a half years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.
Juneteenth has become a day for Black communities across the country to unite and celebrate "the sights and sounds of Blackness: People enjoying art, music and food that connects them to a shared ancestry and history. They celebrate being their authentic selves. They celebrate freedom in both solemn and festive ceremonies". (source: Tolerance.org)
In 1980 Texas recognized the date as a holiday, by 2002 eight additional states started recognizing the date, and by 2008 nearly half of US states observed the dates as a holiday.
Per my research, the only 2 states that I can find that don't yet recognize Juneteenth are Hawaii and South Dakota.
This year both Virginia and New York have made June 19 a paid day of leave for state employees.
As a non-black person, I questioned whether it is appropriate to publicly celebrate Juneteenth. I wondered if it's appropriate to acknowledge the day by saying "Happy Juneteenth" or what is the appropriate message me, personally, and Doyenne should use?
I did some research, what I learned is:
- If celebrations are happening in your community and you are invited into the celebration, or the messaging is that all are welcome, then you are able to show up and celebrate with others. If organizers choose to make their event just for the black community, respect that. Do not put your thoughts and feeling about "everyone should be able to show up" out there. <period>
- Other ways to show support of the black community
- Support black communities by donating to organizations that increase awareness and promote black communities - Google for names of organizations in your area
- Shop at black-owned businesses to make sure their businesses continue to thrive. Many communities have put out lists of black-owned businesses - Google it!
- Do your research! Don't wait for others to tell you
- Two articles about the history of Juneteenth and how to talk to others about it
- If your company/brand wants to celebrate Juneteenth, here are some ideas and guidelines to consider https://later.com/blog/juneteenth-on-social-media/
Key Takeaway: Spend some time expanding your knowledge and understanding! By learning about other lived experiences and understanding your own privilege you're not losing your own "power" or privilege, you're supporting others being able to achieve the same level you're at and we all thrive through those experiences.
Thank you Doyenne Group (women in business group Emily is a part of) for this great write up!