First and foremost, it is wonderful that we continue to enhance our national recognition of historical white supremacy by celebrating Juneteenth. The oppressions of slavery and the subsequent and continuing struggle for Civil Rights deserves more than the shortest month and the coopting MLK’s greatest speech in order to drown out his anti-poverty efforts. So, be sure, I’ll be doing my part to celebrate the end of slavery in America.
Even as a cis straight white man though, it is impossible to ignore the seeming lack of substance behind naming this date as a national holiday. Malcom X warned of people receiving intangible support and platitudes versus actually getting the racial reckoning/reconciliation that this country has long put off. This holiday brings with it no new police reform or policies to make our laws more just. The GOP continues to whine about qualified immunity and won’t support putting in place key provisions of the Voting Rights Act in ways that show that little if anything may be accomplished. So Juneteenth appears to be yet another ‘reminder’ of how far we’ve come, instead of how far we need to go.
US businesses can’t seem to get the point either, or are so scared of the point that they’ll only ever go as far as they have to to appear ‘woke’. The article I post above explains various companies’ celebrations of Juneteenth. Well, celebrations is unfortunately the complete wrong word. Most companies wish to ‘address’ or ‘acknowledge’ Juneteenth without acknowledging the systemic issues that persist and that they are most likely contributing to in their own ways.
The article spells out quite a few companies that provide an unambiguous paid day off for Juneteenth. I feel these groups get it. End of slavery becomes a holiday without working. Makes all the sense. Congrats to all those companies, doubly so if they do racial justice awareness and cultural awareness activities at other times throughout the year.
Unfortunately, that is not the case for some major companies. It is here that I’d like to take a large dump on Apple, but I can’t because they’re actually one of the ones with a day off. Google and several others are not so hip, however. I see a lot of places that are making people come to work in order to join in or otherwise be present for racial justice and cultural awareness events. At a minimum, not allowing black workers to skip all that, and instead asking the them to be present at work during all this seems tone deaf at the very least.
Google ‘eliminating meetings on Friday’ or other companies providing the ‘option’ of a paid day off does not really honor the day as a holiday either does it. All the lives torn to pieces and all the economic gains reaped from slavery and violence against black bodies, and you’d hope it’d be worth more than being able to take a personal day a bit more freely than on other days. It is to the point where I expect some company in Galveston, TX to hold a ‘Mandatory Juneteenth BBQ’ at work without even understanding the irony.
UPDATE: As of 11:30am on 6/17/21, the US govt announced that Juneteenth will be a federal holiday/day off. So now we need regular companies to do the same.