Honoring Juneteenth with Action
This weekend, we will remember an important moment in the fight for racial equality: June 19th, 1865, the day that all slaves were finally freed. While progress was made last summer when Juneteenth was officially recognized as a federal holiday, there is still work to be done. On June 19th, 2022, we should take time to recognize the progress we have made over the past two years, but also look forward to how we can continue to give back to the fight for racial equality by educating ourselves about racism and Black history, supporting Black-owned businesses, and investing in the Black community.
As someone who is not a part of the Black community, but committed to doing my part for racial equality, I wanted to share some of my thoughts on how people from all communities can honor Juneteenth with action. I’ve found that taking measurable action is the best way that I can be a productive ally. Two years ago, as I quarantined at home and a long overdue racial awakening unfolded across the nation, I scrolled through thousands of peoples’ social media posts sharing their thoughts on racial inequality. Voicing support and sharing resources is an important part of being an ally, but I would get frustrated seeing an Instagram story about someone “standing with the Black community” right next to one of them laying out at the beach. It’s not that these posts weren’t meaningful, but I felt that there was a better way I could be an ally. I made an effort to turn to action – I researched, I donated and supported, and I tried to make being an ally a conscious effort every day, and not just something I focused on while it was “popular.” I’m not a perfect ally by any means, and I still have a lot of work to do, but as we remember Juneteenth this weekend, I think it’s a perfect time to reignite our momentum toward making actionable change.
If we’ve learned anything over the past two years, it is that we have a lot left to learn. We cannot effectively give back without taking the time to educate ourselves about the origins of racism, how these origins affect our world today, and what the perspectives of our Black colleagues and friends are. A few resources:
13th – The Netflix documentary from Ava DuVernay examines the US prison system and how racial inequality in the US contributes to high levels of incarceration.
Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement – Black Lives Matter has become synonymous with this most recent movement toward racial equality. Hear from activists, writers and public figures in this documentary that explores the country’s response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman – the man who killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin – and how social media became an important tool in the conversation around race.
I Am Not Your Negro – Based on James Baldwin’s unfinished book Remember This House – which told the story of the assassinations of prominent civil rights leaders Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcom X and Medgar Evers – I Am Not Your Negro unearths interviews from Baldwin’s life in which the author asks tough questions about race and society.
Citizen: An American Lyric – In this book of both poetry and prose, author Claudia Rankine discusses the mounting racial tensions of the 21st century and the daily encounters and micro aggressions that she experiences as a Black person.
How to Be an Antiracist – The #1 New York Times bestseller by professor, activist and author Ibram X. Kendi weaves ethics, history, law and science to awaken readers about antiracism and show them how to go beyond just being aware of racism to actively contributing to the formation of an anti-racist society.
Progressing toward racial equality is not just acknowledging that inequality exists, but making active choices in your life to continue eliminating in. One way to do this is by supporting Black-owned business. I’d encourage you to check out local Black-owned businesses in your city, but here are some with an online presence or multiple locations that all Prosekians can support:
Mahogany Books – Mahogany specializes in books “written by, for, or about people of the African Diaspora.” After being only online for nearly a decade, Mahogany now also has a storefront in Washington, D.C.
Blk & Bold – The first ever Black-owned, nationally distributed coffee brand. You can support them by purchasing at Target, Amazon, Whole Foods or directly from their website.
Chic Geeks – Dress up your laptop, iPad and iPhone with products from this Black-owned business that has been featured in places like Vogue, Cosmopolitan and Good Morning America.
While it’s important for us all to do our own work, it is also important to recognize the people and organizations who dedicate their lives to this work. The racial divide will not be closed without the organizations who advocate for it. Here are some to think about investing in:
Black Girls Code – This non-profit focuses on closing the opportunity gap for Black women and girls by providing them with specialized technology education.
Black Directors Health Equity Agenda – BDHEA works to eradicate the healthy disparities and inequities that threaten Black communities.
Common Ground Foundation – Founded by rapper Common in the 1990s, the Common Ground Foundation works to provide opportunities for children in under-privileged communities through mentorship and the arts.
The Conscious Kid – The Conscious Kid is an education, research and policy organization that supports families and educators in taking action to disrupt racism inequity and bias.