This is new for most of us.
Before a few years ago, I am sure a large majority of the US population did not know what Juneteenth was; regardless of your race. This is not a part of history taught in your social studies class, and most likely, it’s only been a couple of years since your job recognized this day in history as a paid holiday. That is totally okay; just take some time to get a little insight from a friend. In short Juneteenth (June 19th) celebrates the freedom of the last African American slaves in the United States. This day happened two and half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln; so this day is not only to celebrate freedom but to pay homage to those who were enslaved on American soil.
Time to educate
A great way to start your Juneteenth celebration and explain to your child why camp may be closed on Monday would be to explain what Juneteenth means and how it affected the African American community. Just as we discuss Independence Day, Veterans Day, and Dr. King Holiday, there is information and reflection to be done on this monumental anniversary as well. The more we educate not only our children but family, friends, and coworkers, the more we show respect and continued growth in diversity and equity in the world around us.
If you are an African-American, make sure to take time to sit down with your children and talk through why these conversations and this day can be both a day of celebration but also a day of reflection and sometimes painful as we think of what our ancestors endured. Then smile, give them a hug and tell them to wear their blackness with pride. Your family has persevered through the unthinkable and was still able to impact history in amazing ways with their talents and intelligence.
Another great way to celebrate if you don’t feel comfortable or knowledgeable enough to explain Juneteenth to your children or they may not be old enough to really understand is to be sure to attend a Juneteenth celebration. If you are looking for a way to start the conversation regarding Juneteenth or racial injustice, a virtual book club is an amazing way to bring like minds together for a productive and educational conversation.
Support black business
Once you have had that conversation with your kiddos about Juneteenth, show support by supporting a black-owned business. If you are planning to grab something to eat here is a list of amazing restaurants. If you’re not going to grab a bite to eat, here is a longer listing of amazing black-owned businesses in New Orleans that you can support or just buy a gift card from! Father’s Day and Juneteenth are on the same day; it’s a great time to shop local and support a black-owned business in honor of Juneteenth.
Don’t shy away
Figuring out what honoring Juneteenth in your home looks like may take a while. No matter your race, it should be a day that is not overlooked on your calendar. If you consider yourself an ally to the black community, be sure to post those Juneteenth Day pictures on your IG story and share a picture of the meal or gift you bought at a black-owned business. The more we normalize this day and continue to create open dialogue the more we can evolve as a community.