Musings: Happy Juneteenth!

Here in the United States Juneteenth is a holiday that celebrates and commemorates the emancipation of enslaved Black people: It’s the anniversary of the announcement of General Order 3 by Union Army General Gordon Granger, an order that proclaimed freedom for enslaved people in Texas. Originating in Galveston, TX, where Granger announced General Order 3, Juneteenth has been celebrated in various parts of the States — with the holiday often being a broad celebration of Black American culture.

Some of the earliest celebrations, which go back to 1866 involve church-centered community gatherings. Celebrations spread across much of the South and became more commercialized in the 1920s and 1930s focusing on Black American food. With the Great Migration, the holiday was taken to other parts of the country.

During the Civil Rights Movement, Juneteenth was eclipsed; but the holiday grew in popularity in the 1970s with the Black Power Movement, and featured a focus on freedom and Black art.

Although many of us weren’t taught this, Juneteenth is the real independence day. Sadly, it took 150+ years for the day to become a federal holiday. But that’s America for you. (Over 200 bills were written to make lynching a federal crime — or a hate crime — and that was only passed last year! Also, don’t tell me that America isn’t racist.)

So, you’re an ally or you want to be an ally. I understand that it’s often very difficult to know what the right thing is to do or how to even go about it. It’s even more confusing when there isn’t consensus. Now, I’m not going to speak for every single Black person in this country but I’d say you can do some of the following:

  • If you have Black friends, coworkers, etc.etc. that you respect, ask. Ask without assumptions or preconceived notions — and fucking listen.
  • Amplify Black voices: If you follow a Black creative or a Black influencer, who you really dig, shout them out. For a small, independent website or a blog, every new click, every new pair of eyeballs can potentially mean a new follower, a new customer. If you have a few bucks to spare, buy art or merch from Black creatives. If they have a Patreon account, donate a few bucks. Every dollar really does matter.
  • Buy Black. Simply put, spend your money with a small Black business, who you really dig.
  • Donate to causes that help some of vexing issues of systemic racism.
  • With every candidate you consider voting for, look into the causes and issues they support and their thinking behind them. If they’re already in office, look into what bills and projects they voted for and supported.

Of course, there is always more you can do. Just listen to Black folk. And in the meantime, Happy Juneteenth!

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