What is Juneteenth, and How do I Join the Party

If you don't know what Juneteenth is, you may want to learn quickly, because it is becoming the most important holiday of the year.


What is Juneteenth

Juneteenth, is the celebration of Lincoln’s emancipation of slaves. It all started in a small Texas town. On June 19th 1866, a group of Union soldiers came to the town to inform the town of the emancipation proclamation. Every year since, the day has been celebrated, across the country. Originally, it was celebrated only by members of the black community. The holiday consisted of singing traditional spirituals, celebrating black culture, and dancing. Today however, people of all races join in the festivities. It is a way to celebrate black communities and to highlight black achievement. It serves as a celebration of all the things that African Americans have been able to do with their freedom. In order to show solidarity. Many companies have joined in, and some have decided to even donate some of their profits to black charities.

Why is it Such a Big Deal

Juneteenth has been celebrated for 154 years, why is it just trending on twitter today? Well if you have been keeping up with the news, I am sure you could guess why people are putting such a big emphasis on the holiday this year. Now, black issues are finally getting the spotlight they deserve. People want to increase the scope of Juneteenth celebrations to reflect that. There are still a number of historic inequities that have  to be addressed. The lack of recognition of Juneteenth is the perfect example of America’s troubled history with black folk. While more people than ever are observing this year, it is still not a national holiday. This is emblematic of the deep seeded racism in the government. The government is perfectly happy celebrating a white colonialist murderer like Columbus, but they won’t even give one day to the emancipation of black people. Companies are having to do the government’s job for them, by giving their employees the day off.

Should White People be Allowed

When talking about POC holidays, this question always comes up. Should white folks be allowed to celebrate? First of all, if white people are allowed to join in the Juneteenth festivities, there will need to be some ground rules. For one, they can’t use it as a way to squeeze out virtue points from their followers. Today is about celebrating the black community, not about posting a cute Instagram picture with a Juneteenth hashtag. This is part of a wider problem, turning appalling histories, into a photo opt. As a white person, you should listen more than you speak today. Overall, if you can respectfully celebrate you can be part of the Juneteenth movement, even if you are white.

How to Respectfully Celebrate

The key to being respectful, is to realize the troubled history and the pain that was the cause of Juneteenth. Today is about the black Americans who were enslaved by white Americans. It is about the ripple effects that have had on how we treat black people in our society. If your goal is to hijack this into your own agenda, or use it as a way to gain clout. Just stay quiet. If you genuinely want to help, there are ways. For example, you can use your white privilege in order to get more attention on systemic issues. You can also use your whiteness to physically protect black people on the front lines fighting racism. However the easiest and possibly most helpful thing you can do is pay reparations to a black charity. If you manage to do all these things without making the day about you. Then you may even be invited to Juneteenth next year.

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