It has been a great year for African Americans. The Black lives matter movement last year had gained tremendous momentum amid Covid restrictions. There were multiple marches across the nation. However, some of the demonstrations have been more controversial and politically charged than others. This year Juneteenth is significant because the new President, Joe Biden, has approved and declared it a Federal Holiday. This is a revolution when it comes to the African American community. For too long, this community has tolerated prejudice in all spheres of life. There has been zero representation of this community in powerful positions and had primarily been used as a token. Now they have a proper separate holiday and a sense of identity that had been ambiguous for way too long.
It was a celebration of the post-civil war era when over 250,000 people in Texas had yet to gain independence. After Union troops marched into Texas to declare the proclamation of emancipation, independence was called for the formerly enslaved African Americans. So to expect such a large and enriched community to celebrate or co–celebrate a holiday with Americans is unfair and takes away from the discrimination faced by these societies over these centuries.
Juneteenth is also known as emancipation day or freedom day. It marks the day when Southern African Americans were set free from slavery. Though actual slavery had been abolished on January 1st, 1863, many states didn’t take it into effect as the emancipation proclamation was called. They continued to enslave people until 1865 when genuinely nationwide emancipation was called, and troops went across the nation to make sure that it was effective.
The history of Juneteenth dates back to 1865. It originated in Texas in 1980 when Texas called Juneteenth a state holiday. About 49 states in America now recognize this holiday, and recently it has become a Federal Holiday. It is surprising to see the amount of Americans who are unaware of the history behind Juneteenth. There is a tremendous historical gap and deliberately created controversy woven around this specific holiday to suppress it. However, it is essential to know about Juneteenth to respect the legacies of those who sacrificed their lives for freedom and later fought against discrimination.
There are several ways you can celebrate Juneteenth; even if you aren’t a part of the African American community, you can observe as an ally by rendering support to this community in many ways, such as:
Know and Respect the History Behind Juneteenth
There are many misconceptions when studying the struggles of African Americans in books or films made by people who aren’t a part of this community. The history isn’t first-handed; it is from a different perspective. There is a lack of empathy, and there is a lack of understanding from such authors. Often the school books do not emphasize the history of African Americans and present the history of this community in such a way that makes it seem that racial segregation is a century-old topic from medieval times. However, this discrimination is as recent as forty years ago. These books and films have been written by white writers who, even though they sympathize with the African American community, fail to understand their trauma and struggles. Even in the contemporary era, African Americans are a constant target of racial discrimination, racial profiling, and ruthless stereotyping.
Many books, such as Juneteenth by Ralph Ellison and many mother modern documentaries made by Black creators that comment on matters with a more personal perspective and contain authenticity that you wouldn’t find in the works of white Americans work.
Support Black-owned Businesses
There are many ways to support the community. Even as an ally, you can show your support and love for his holiday by supporting black-owned businesses or black content creators on this day. Social media is a powerful tool. Now, just by searching it on a hashtag, you can search up many small businesses owned by African Americans, whether small skincare, bakery, or jewelry businesses, up to full powerful Black-owned brands.
Brands such as Bee Love, Briogeo, UOMA, Loyalty Bookstores, beautiful jewelry brands like Khiry, fashion stores like Li-Li’s Creation.
These are some businesses owned by black men and women creating products on a large and small scale; they will appreciate your support.
Donations to movements and charities
You can also directly support African Americans on the occasion of Juneteenth by donating to the many movements and charities working hard to provide justice, demand legislation for a better life for this community in America. Many movements are going on, such as the Audre Lorde Project, Black Lives Matter movement, Breonna Taylor Donate Fund, Justice for Elijah McClain fund, etc. These are some of the most popular movements ongoing right now.
One of the best ways to show your support for Juneteenth and the African American community is by donating consistently to these movements. These organizations need funds to arrange such marches and events and demand change and legislation. It is undoubtedly a miracle that the whole country gathered to demand justice for George Floyd in the past year. Even though the circumstances have been challenging due to government and Covid restrictions, a spirit has ignited among communities to push for justice. The movement has gained substantial momentum.
Juneteenth is a day of pride, a day to recall history, and a motivation to fight the injustices against African Americans in this country.
Spike, C. (2021). 6 Ways to Celebrate and Commemorate the History Behind Juneteenth. AARP. Retrieved from https://www.aarp.org/home-family/friends-family/info-2021/juneteenth-history-and-celebrations.html