Révolutionnaire Team Révolutionnaire Team
Révolutionnaire Team

Illustration by: Dom GuzmanIllustration by: Dom Guzman



By: Maya Simmons


As the rise in temperatures and longer, sunnier days mark the beginning of summer, they also indicate that Juneteenth is just around the corner. As a child, donning pigtails and knockers in my hair, I remember being excited to attend Juneteenth celebrations. I looked forward to buying gold bangles to add to my jewelry collection and hearing the sound of drill boots on pavement as the parade passed by.


For me, celebrating Juneteenth, a holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, was customary. Despite the historical significance of slavery’s end, this holiday felt like the Black community’s best kept secret. Celebrated and revered by us, yet completely unbeknownst to everyone else. Last year, for the first time, I noticed that pattern began to change. 


For many white Americans, 2020 was a year of  “racial reckoning.” The murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the worldwide protests they sparked made it clear to white America that racism is, in fact, that bad. This is not to say that racism or police violence in particular were new, more frequent, or even more publicized last year than they’ve been in the past; white people just weren’t paying attention. Perhaps it was the pandemic, which forced us all to be still, that made the difference. This newfound acknowledgement of racism and the subsequent realization that Black people have been aware of and living through these violent, oppressive realities for years lead to a heap of white guilt. It led to a scramble by schools, companies, and institutions of all sorts to prove just how “not racist” they are. In the case of Juneteenth, some places declared it an observed holiday.


Major companies including Nike, Target, and Lyft declared June 19th a paid day off. As Meredith Clark, an assistant professor of media studies at the University of Virginia, said in a June 2020 CNN article, making Juneteenth a holiday is “a nice symbolic gesture… but at the same time I want to see that sort of action matched with the commitment to changing the culture inside these organizations.”


Acknowledging Black holidays or significant dates in our history without doing the work to dismantle the racist systems that are harming Black folks every day is  insincere. Of course, a day off and holiday pay are nice, but an America without racism would be much nicer. What good is it to acknowledge the inequity of this nation’s past without committing to building a more equitable present and future?




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