Black Americans, particularly southern Black Americans, have been celebrating the June 19 holiday known as Juneteenth for decades, as it commemorates the ending of slavery. But it was in the wake of this country’s racial reckoning in 2020 that the once-underrepresented historical event became a
federal holiday in June 2021. Fighting for the liberation and uplifting of Black communities is one of the best ways allies can honor the day. There are several important actions non-Black people can take on Juneteenth to honor and support Black Americans.
You might think Juneteenth marks the anniversary of the end of slavery in America, but that's not entirely correct. Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863, but June 19, 1865 is celebrated because that’s when
word of freedom arrived in Galveston, Texas, freeing the enslaved people there more than two years later. Even then, many people were still enslaved for years.
Black Americans often celebrate Juneteenth with parties, fireworks, and a
whole lot of food, especially those that live in the south. Of course, if you’re not a member of the Black community, you might feel out of place celebrating the holiday. Still, it’s a great time to be an ally, so here are 11 ways non-Black people can show their support on Juneteenth and everyday. 1 Sign Petitions Demanding Justice For Black Lives
Celebrating Juneteenth means celebrating Black lives — and you can't do this without working to prevent more lives from being senselessly taken. Sign petitions demanding justice for Black lives like
#DefundThePolice and Breonna Taylor. Urge your representatives to take steps that will put an end to police brutality and unjust force in your community. 2 Shop Black-Owned Businesses
Supporting Black communities can be done in many ways, and one of these is by shopping Black-owned businesses. Whether it's restaurants, clothing brands,
makeup companies, or anything in between, supporting Black-owned businesses is crucial — not only because these companies are wonderful, but also because it gives economic power to Black communities.This has never been easier thanks to places like Etsy, which highlight incredible Black-owned businesses. This is something you should always be doing — not just on Juneteenth. 3 Attend Protests SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images
With Black lives still being taken without consequence, protests in the U.S. occur often. Find a Black Lives Matter protest or a
Defund the Police protest to attend. Listen to the speakers, be part of the crowd that's advocating for Black lives, and support your Black peers. Just remember, you’re there to center Black voices, not speak over them. (Black Lives Matter doesn’t have an event page on its website to find upcoming demonstrations, but the organization will likely post about upcoming protests on Twitter.) 4 Stream Black Artists
You can celebrate Juneteenth by streaming Black artists and sharing their work with others. Black musicians have paved the way for others in almost every musical genre. Listen to old faves artists like
Monica and Brittany Howard, up-and-comers like Ant Clemons and Shamir, or musicians who are having a moment right now, like H.E.R. and Chloe x Halle. 5 Make Donations To Black Organizations & Charities
There are many organizations that support different Black communities across the nation, including the
Marsha P. Johnson Institute, which supports Black trans women, and the Loveland Foundation, which raises funds for Black women and girls’ mental healthcare. Museums that document and preserve Black history, like the National Museum of African American History and Culture, accept donations, too, and are crucial for both celebrating the past and informing the future. Every dollar counts; nothing is too little. Do your research, make a donation, and then encourage your friends and family members to do the same. 6 Educate Yourself & Your Peers
Take the time to educate yourself and your peers about the history surrounding Juneteenth. Do not rely on your Black friends to teach you about the holiday. There are plenty of online
resources, books, podcasts, and movies to help you understand the significance and history of Juneteenth. 7 Celebrate Juneteenth
Juneteenth shines a light on the United States’ relationship with slavery while honoring Black people who have battled with that history. Regardless of your race, make it a point to celebrate Juneteenth in your own household — just keep your commemoration appropriate. As Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman, author of
The Black Agenda, told NPR, “If your celebration looks like taking away or speaking over Black Americans and how they're choosing to celebrate and how they're choosing to stand in their truth, then I don't think that's actually celebrating alongside Black Americans. Just don't interrupt Black folks who are just trying to have a great time.” 8 Reach Out To A Diversity & Inclusion Office For More Information
If you have a Diversity and Inclusion Office or representative at your workplace or on your campus, they’re there to educate and ensure equality on the campus or workplace. Utilize them — they can inform you about Juneteenth and advocating for racial equality, as well as answer any questions you may have.
9 If You Have Children, Teach Them About Racism
Nobody is born racist. This is why it is incredibly important to teach your children about race, racism, and inclusion as they grow up. Teach them the hard facts — education is a crucial tool for a brighter future. Books like
by Ibram X. Kendi and Ashley Lukashevsky, AntiRacist Baby by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman, and All Are Welcome by Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris are all good places to start for young children. What Can A Citizen Do? 10 Listen To Black Leaders
For many Black leaders, the fight for equality never stops. As a non-Black person, it’s important to not only hear their stories, but lift them up and let them know you’re on their side. On Juneteenth, there are countless
in-person and virtual educational celebrations to commemorate the end of slavery in the U.S. Listen, learn, and honor Black Americans past, present, and future. 11 Share Information On Social Media
Remember to share infographics about the holiday and amplify Black voices on your social channels as much as you can. You can also take it a step further and share links to petitions you’ve signed, lists of Black-owned businesses, and more to keep the ball rolling. The more you share about Juneteenth, the more likely it is one of your followers will do the same. Creating awareness is incredibly important, but making physical strides toward racial justice (by taking any of these actions above) can show allyship and move society in the right direction.
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This article was originally published on
June 18, 2020