Juneteenth became a federal holiday in the United States in June 2021. One year later, tone-deafness is still prevalent and alive, especially within major corporations and organizations.
Don’t believe me? I can show you better than I can tell you with two recent situations.
First, in April 2022, a Juneteenth celebration was unveiled for many people to take part in Little Rock, Arkansas. There was only one problem: the event was organized and would be hosted by three featured hosts - all of which were white.
Then, in May 2022, Walmart decided to pay an ode to the newly formed federal holiday by selling a special Juneteenth ice cream meant to “commemorate” and “bring awareness” to the monumental day.
All it did was spark nationwide controversy about the corporation's approach to its efforts, which seemed more financially driven than aware-driven.
What do both of these events have in common? Two things in particular:
They’re making a profit off the holiday meant for black and brown people.
They’re making the holiday all about them instead of focusing on black and brown people.
Look, I’m not saying we should completely bash and cancel those who treat Juneteenth as a money-making opportunity or a way to gain clout. Instead, I believe we should be educating these organizations more about what celebrating Juneteenth should look like.
Today, we’ll review three major ways these organizations can properly commemorate the federal holiday. That way, Juneteenth will keep its unique meaning for decades to come.
Spotlight Other BIPOC Businesses, Products, and Brands
At first, talking about or sharing other prominent black businesses doesn’t seem like enough effort.
Think about it for a moment. These individuals would merely use their words to speak well about Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) and their up-and-coming ideas. However, it doesn’t sound as powerful, right?
I understand why most would question how that can help BIPOC in the long run. However, depending on how these corporations use words, it can lead to the growth of these businesses and brands as time passes.
Every day, whether you realize it or not, we are interacting with people. There are opportunities to spark conversations with people, whether in-person, at home, or in any other location.
It takes no time for someone to talk to the people they interact with daily about a new black-owned restaurant they can try on their next outing. And it takes the same amount of time to spread the word about other black creatives making a difference within their businesses.
Imagine how loud the voice would be for more giant corporations who choose to do the same for these communities altogether.
Other ways for corporations to support BIPOC include:
Sharing BIPOC content on social media.
Advertising the products and services of BIPOC in-person and online.
Donate To BIPOC Businesses, Brands, and Causes
When BIPOC start any type of business, brand, or movement, especially during the height of the pandemic, one of the most prominent things they struggle with revolves around funding their projects and making revenue.
Now, these businesses are facing a new challenge of keeping their businesses afloat amid:
A pending recession
Donating to these businesses to ensure they keep their operations going is a significant way for corporations to bring peace of mind and show their support. However, their efforts do not have to be purely financial.
These businesses need labor help, resources, and moral support to make it through the unknown since they are typically affected the most when economic turmoil looms.
More resources that will help these black businesses and organizations can be referenced here.
Provide BIPOC With A Chance To Educate Others
Have you noticed a specific pattern with corporations and organizations who try to “celebrate” Juneteenth? One way or another, they seem to:
Take their spin on how they believe the holiday should be celebrated.
Not consult other BIPOC about how they should organize the celebration.
These ideas could also be why many people in the BIPOC community may believe that others are “culturally appropriating” their history, culture, and customs.
But imagine how different Juneteenth would look like if we had the opportunities to properly educate those who don’t fully understand the purpose of Juneteenth.
What would that look like to you? More togetherness? Less divisiveness? A more diverse and culturally correct society? The possibilities are endless.
But before we can get to that realistic fairytale ending, people in the BIPOC community have to do their part in educating those who are unaware of the powerful history of Juneteenth by:
Correcting ignorance both in-person and online.
Becoming more present in various communities, including our own.
Recommending books, movies, and more that speak about the history of Juneteenth.
Spreading the words about other helpful Juneteenth resources, which you can find here.
Conclusion: Corporations, Listen To Black People
After analyzing the situations with Walmart and Little Rock, only one thought seemed to cross my mind: How in the world could something like this still happen in 2022?
Many ideas crossed my mind, as I can only imagine they have for you too. But only one true conclusion popped up: corporations are not listening to BIPOC fully.
If they were, then situations like the two mentioned above would be more culturally correct and include more insight from BIPOC. Plus, their efforts would have more of an authentic and genuine feel instead of being forced upon because they must appeal to people in the BIPOC communities in any way possible.
So corporations, listen and learn from those in these communities! You can learn something about commemorating special holidays like Juneteenth that have a deep connection to their culture and heritage.
We’ll see if they get the memo next year. Until then, we’ll continue to do what’s needed to celebrate Juneteenth authentically.