Recognizing Juneteenth as a National Holiday is not a solution to ending racism. It’s a bandaid, a temporary fix to a wound at which we have given only a cursory triage. Gatekeeping humanity by only granting the privilege of it being recognized, is wrong. There lies the audacity of racism: to believe freedom can be taken and given at one’s will and without recourse.
Establishing Juneteenth as a federal holiday is an acknowledgement of slavery, which as an institution, has morphed appearances and changed tactics often in order to remain viable in today’s society. Juneteenth recognizes the subjugation of people which continued long after it was supposed to have ended in the United States. It is also an acknowledgement of the history of horrible injustices lobbied against the whole of Black communities around the globe at the hands of the imperialistic abuse of power so often chosen by governments more concerned with being strong (and therefore right) rather than being compassionate and humane.
Acknowledgement is only the beginning.
The Institution of White Supremacy continues to marginalize anyone different. It has deemed the needs of non-white people unimportant. Instead of transformative changes like eradicating systems of inequality by closing the racial wealth gap, pushing through national non-restrictive voting reform, reforming and defunding the police, and returning critical race theory to all classrooms, we hear and read blanket statements with no true action behind them.
Admitting there is a problem is the first step. If we are to create a society in which all people experience “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” without qualifiers, then we must make things uncomfortable for those who benefit from racism, by calling out atrocities rather than praising the bare minimum of efforts designed to placate the masses. Make Juneteenth the start of your journey; one in which you break the shackles of complacency and passive resistance. Aim to disrupt the status quo, and learn and take real action.