Updated: Dec 5, 2022
Today we observe Juneteenth, which was on Sunday, June 19th. This day commemorates the official date when Black Americans officially found out about their freedom, years after it had been granted. This holiday started out as a grassroots celebration, with people in the Black community advocating for this day to be nationally recognized.
Juneteenth is now an official federal holiday, which means many corporations have given employees the day off. It's important to remember that this date is not another excuse for having a family barbecue and breaking out the games. This is a day to reflect on how Black people have, and continue to be, marginalized and put at a disadvantage. Many corporations think that by giving us the day off this means that they're doing their part as an advocate, but truly they are just doing performative allyship.
So you gave us the day off, what do you really think this does for B;ack people? Most of your staff will either use the day to hang out with family and friends, use the day to catch up on chores and sleep in, or do any other miscellaneous task on hand. You think that you've helped black people in the progression, but in reality you have just done another performative job that really doesn't help us in any way.
When it comes down to it, corporations have been notorious for doing the bare minimum when it comes to being true allies and especially proponents for those in the black community. They'll post the hashtag black lives matter, post for Dr. Martin Luther King jr. day, and black history month. But when it comes down to it, half of their workforce is comprised of non-Black people, most of their board of directors and executive staff have little to no Black people on it, and their diversity and inclusion initiatives are led by people who are not directly affected by diversity and inclusion or the few black people on the team are tasked with leading this initiative.
And giving people Juneteenth off is no exception to this. It is not gracious to give us the day off , it is rightly deserved. Corporations don't hesitate to give people Memorial day off or Veterans Day because the gravitas of those days are known throughout the country. As should Juneteenth. While this day does not affect all people similarly, the background behind it shows that as a country we have victimized others and those effects do reverberate even today. Corporations should not only give people Juneteenth off but also educate their staff on Juneteenth. They should walk the walk and talk the talk by putting black people in positions of power, and educating team members about the importance of the day and about the importance of having black voices and contributions in any narrative. It's nice to give your employees the day off but when they head back to work and are faced with microaggressions and very little to no career opportunities, having the day off means nothing. So let's remember that Juneteenth is not just another corporate holiday. This day has more weight than some can even imagine and it's important that we always hold that near to us.