How to Celebrate Juneteenth at Work?
If you’re opening this post today and wondering, “What authority does Julie [a white woman] have to tell us how to celebrate Juneteenth at work?”
I totally agree with you.
I’ve wrestled with this question for the past year, since Juneteenth officially became a (paid) federal holiday in the US.
A brief history lesson c/o NBC
Though slavery technically ended with the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, it couldn’t be enforced until the end of the Civil War. But when the Civil War ended two years later, many white people didn’t tell or release their slaves. So two months after Lee surrendered to Grant in Virginia, Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger and his troops arrived in Galveston, TX. Their mission was to make sure people knew that it was time to release their slaves. That was on June 19, 1865: Juneteenth.
So back to the question
Those who work with me know that I embrace the European lifestyle and give our team time off for every possible holiday (plus 5 weeks vacation). Yet I haven’t added Juneteenth to our holiday calendar yet.
The truth is: I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do. For a business that’s currently a team of white women (I don’t want that to be true, but it is today), it feels more like appropriation than representation to give ourselves this holiday.
That’s not advice. It’s not even a strong opinion. It’s a question. It’s a sheepish question. How do you celebrate Juneteenth at work, ensuring that its intention and core stays intact?
And though I leave this as a question for reflection, reaction, opinion (please comment below), in the words of Oprah,
There’s one thing I know for sure
If you’re waiting until Juneteenth… or MLK Day… or Black History Month to ponder these questions, you’re waiting too long. Those of us who own (small) businesses have an obligation to ask the hard questions. Express vulnerability when we’re not the right person with the answer. And make diversity and inclusion a topic and tangible action in our businesses. Every day. No holiday needed.
Originally published at https://ellevatedoutcomes.com on June 21, 2022.