Juneteenth is not a consolation prize
For decades, black people have been asking for Juneteenth to be a federal holiday
The Senate voted unanimously to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. My first reaction to this week’s news was, “Does Mitch McConnell know what Juneteenth is? And why is he not trying to organize his go-to filibuster?” I kept trying to lower my eyebrow, but anytime Republican and Democratic senators agree on anything unanimously since 2008, I’m wary. I can’t even say I didn’t fully understand why Black Twitter felt like Juneteenth was a consolation prize when so many protesters were asking to defund the police, to stop racial profiling, to stop marijuana users (heavily targeted toward minorities), to get rid of voter suppression laws and to have more equitable job opportunities.
These were some of the causes that Black Lives Matter protesters have put their lives on the line to fight for during a worldwide health outbreak that left more than 176 million people infected and killed more than 3.8 million. (More than 2.3 million people have been vaccinated though.) Juneteenth just wasn’t on this particular protest list. I get it.
But here’s where it gets problematic for me. We (meaning a significant amount of black folks) want more minority arts and history in our education, and we want more people to actually give credit where credit is due for our African-American ancestors. So ridiculing the idea of Juneteenth becoming an official federal holiday isn’t helping anyone, especially someone who has been signing petitions to make it a federal holiday for the past 10 years. While some of you didn’t ask for it, I sure as hell did.
Recommended Read: “My first time celebrating Juneteenth was with Mos Def ~ Learning about Chicago’s Inner-City Muslim Action Network”