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Learn & Unlearn: Anti-racism Resource Guide

Juneteenth

Original post on @saic.maffairs forthcoming.

Let’s talk about the state of freedom

June 19th, celebrated as Juneteenth, recgonizes the historic moment in 1865 when enslaved people in Galveston, TX were informed of their freedom from slavery. Also known as Freedom Day, Emancipation  Day, Jubilee Day, Liberty Day, news of this declaration came more than 2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed which ended the institution of slavery in ceded states. Celebrations of this newfound ‘freedom’ spread across the country, and still continues today. 1, 2

Every year, families and friends join together for food, music, and storytelling. Some cities even hold larger events such as parades and festivals. Increased awareness has inspired widespread action with companies recently declaring June 19 a company holiday. 3 Despite its significance, Juneteenth is not taught in most schools, and it’s not considered a Federal holiday! Out of 50 states in America, 48 states (+ Washington D.C.) recognize June 19 as a state holiday, which is testament to the tense systematic relationship between the United States and White Supremacy. 4, 5, 6 The National Juneteenth Observance Foundation, a Mississippi-based organization, has worked for years to get Juneteenth recognized/observed as a federal holiday.

Juneteenth functions as an indication of where we stand in our fight against racism: how freedom was and still is delayed, how progress is not linear, how far we’ve come, and how far we still have to go. By the time the news was delivered to Texans, it was already 2.5 years delayed. Today, with the communication abilities we have, we can spread news faster and farther. We can determine: Is freedom inevitable? Then let’s not delay it.. 

Quote

“There’s a paradox inherent in the fact that emancipation is celebrated primarily among African-Americans, and that the celebration is rooted in a perception of slavery as something that happened to Black people, rather than something that the country committed. The paradox rests on the presumption that the arrival of freedom should be greeted with gratitude, instead of with self-reflection about what allowed it to be deprived in the first place.” - Jelani Cobb

To Research

To Read

To Listen

To Watch

To Follow

To Act

  • Businesses recognized Juneteenth as a day to support Black and African American communities, this mandates us to dedicate this time to supporting Black-owned businesses and creators. 180 businesses.
  • If Juneteenth is a corporate holiday for you, attend a webinar, talk, symposium, or lecture about the history of racialized oppression against Black and African American communities
  • If Juneteenth is a corporate holiday for you, it is a day on rather than a day off. This means taking actions to repair what has been broken over time. Make time for raising your own awareness and your community’s today.
  • Support the movement to make Juneteenth a federal holiday: Sign the Petition on Black Lives Matter
  • If Juneteenth is not a corporate holiday, send memos to corporate leadership about why Juneteenth should be a corporate holiday & list companies that already do
  • If you’re out of office on Juneteenth, consider adding information, articles, or links to donation sites to your out of office auto-reply or voicemail
  • If your workplace does not or cannot observe Juneteenth, can you take an extra shift from a colleague so they can take the day off?

To Reflect

  • Remember,  Juneteenth is not a day off, it’s a day on. Juneteenth is a Day of Service, especially for allies and accomplices. How are you commemorating today? How are you elevating Black joy? 
  • What does freedom mean to you? 
  • Take some time to reflect on the diaspora of Black experiences in America today and throughout history. Listen, pay close attention. Read a book. Watch a movie. Have a conversation. Listen to a podcast. Share stories with one another. Ask questions along the way. Rework your lens to consider this.
  • What is your degree of comfort with talking about race, police brutality, and white supremacy? What research might help you in communicating your viewpoint?
  • Hold yourself accountable. Everyone has a conscious and unconscious bias. Examine how you create or reinforce harmful conditions for others. Consider the role you play in shaping the lived experience of others. 

Works Cited

  1. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., “What is Juneteenth?,” PBS
  2. Derrick Bryson Taylor, “So You Want to Learn About Juneteenth?,” The New York Times, June 2, 2021.
  3. Fabiola Cineas, “Juneteenth, Explained,” Vox, June 18, 2020. 
  4. Jessica Sager, “Juneteenth - What is Juneteenth, Facts, History,and Meaning,” Parade, June 1, 2021.
  5. McKenzie Jean-Philippe, “What is Juneteenth? Facts, History, and How to Celebrate,” Oprah Daily, May 6, 2021.