First-gen Afro-Latina Dr. Angel Jones is an educator, activist, and significant race scholar whose analysis explores the influence of racism on the psychological well being of Black college students with a give attention to racial microaggressions, Racial Battle Fatigue, and gendered-racism.
President Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves in 1863 with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation or at the least that’s the lie we have been taught rising up. Nevertheless, regardless of being portrayed because the Nice White Savior, Lincoln’s signature didn’t mark the tip of slavery nor the start of freedom for slaves. Though the proclamation claimed that “all individuals held as slaves” shall be free, this was not the case for all enslaved individuals. And, as Fannie Lou Hamer stated, “no one’s free till everyone’s free.” So, as a result of 1 / 4 of 1,000,000 Black individuals have been nonetheless enslaved in Texas on the time, nobody was free. The Emancipation Proclamation went into impact on January 1st, 1863, however the information was not shared in Texas till June nineteenth 1865 – nearly 2 and a half years later. Two and a half years of selecting cotton within the sweltering warmth. Two and a half years of Black girls being raped by slave masters. Two and a half years of Black males being whipped and having to dwell with everlasting scars on their again, in the event that they lived in any respect. Two and a half years of terror, trauma, and tragedy, which the Black neighborhood nonetheless experiences nearly two centuries later.
Juneteenth Turns into a Federal Vacation
On June 18th 2021, a couple of hundred and fifty years after the emancipation of the final of the enslaved individuals in Texas, President Biden declared that June nineteenth would develop into a federal vacation referred to as Juneteenth Day of Observance. In accordance with him, it’s “a day by which we keep in mind the ethical stain and horrible toll of slavery on our nation,” which he known as “America’s unique sin.” As described by Consultant Sheila Jackson Lee, probably the most influential proponents of the Juneteenth invoice, “Juneteenth honors the tip of the 400 years of struggling African People endured beneath slavery and celebrates the legacy of perseverance that has develop into the hallmark of the African American neighborhood.” Black activists and politicians advocated for Juneteenth to develop into a nationwide vacation to carry this nation accountable for its actions in opposition to Black individuals and to stop extra miseducation and misinformation about our nation’s historical past of slavery. Juneteenth additionally acknowledges the dopeness of the Black neighborhood and our unimaginable capability to beat insurmountable obstacles. Nevertheless, whereas the intention behind the vacation might have been noble, its lengthy path to implementation has been something however.
Capitalism Strikes Once more
Holidays could also be introduced as alternatives to honor and have a good time a selected second or milestone, however what they usually flip into is a monetary free-for-all. Sadly, Juneteenth will not be the exception. Firms who’ve by no means proven any curiosity within the Black neighborhood are out of the blue rolling out the crimson carpet of what they promote as “restricted version” Juneteenth objects, which is ironic given the truth that their curiosity in us can also be restricted. Take Walmart, for instance, one of many greatest American companies, just lately launched a brand new ice cream in “honor” of Juneteenth, packaged in a black, crimson, and inexperienced container – the colours that symbolize Black liberation – to actually promote their “help” for our neighborhood. After releasing the restricted version ice cream and getting DRAGGED on social media — which they deserved — the corporate pulled the ice cream and issued an apology. An apology they in all probability borrowed from the Ikea in Atlanta who additionally went all in with the racist stereotypes and offered watermelon and fried rooster for Juneteenth in 2021. Not solely are these companies capitalizing off of our experiences, however they’re additionally insulting the Black neighborhood within the course of. I perceive that firms are all the time going to attempt to become profitable, however there are different methods to go about it.
First, they’ll rent a Black advisor to provide you with ways in which really have a good time the that means of Juneteenth. Second, they’ll have an in depth plan of how they are going to use their earnings to help the Black neighborhood. And most significantly, they’ll use their energy and affect to encourage others to immediately help Black-owned companies.
Along with the performative allyship displayed by firms who solely “have a good time” Juneteenth for monetary achieve, the vacation can also be used as a type of political pacification, which this nation usually does to the Black neighborhood. Now we have constantly advocated for the dismantling of white supremacy and an finish to systemic racism, however, as an alternative of life-saving insurance policies, we’re thrown performative bones within the type of Maya Angelou on 1 / 4 (which she shares with a slave-owner) and Harriet Tubman on a $20 invoice, which has but to truly occur. This stuff aren’t inherently damaging, however with out coverage and reform, they’re hole. They’re introduced to us as “progress” whereas our individuals are nonetheless being shot within the streets, and it’s arduous to see them as something greater than an try and pacify us with the hopes that it’s going to reduce our activism. Spoiler alert – it gained’t.
As somebody who doesn’t have a good time the 4th of July as a result of I consider that doing so is an insult to everybody who was nonetheless enslaved on the time of this nation’s ‘delivery’, Juneteenth is essential to me. And past the day itself, which the Black neighborhood has celebrated lengthy earlier than Biden’s proclamation, it changing into a nationwide vacation is essential as a result of it challenges the false narrative that has been, and continues to be, taught in faculties. I additionally love Juneteenth as a result of I’m a fan of any and each alternative to honor and have a good time those that got here earlier than me. I consider wholeheartedly in fulfilling my ancestor’s wildest goals, however I can guarantee you that Juneteenth ice cream wasn’t one in all them.