The signing of Juneteenth into law as a federal holiday in the United States is as of much importance to Black Americans as it is to Black Canadians.
In simple terms, without the end of Slavery, many of us would literally not be here.
Half of my DNA is from the Anderson family of Arkansas. Without freedom from Slavery, my biological grandfather doesn’t play college football at Kentucky State, doesn’t get signed by the Calgary Stampeders, and certainly doesn’t appear in a movie with Marilyn Monroe.
I want you to reflect on your “23andme” for a moment. Where are your bloodlines connected to Slavery? Now imagine if Slavery still existed. You either would not exist, or you would be a slave. I am literally touching my arms, face, and heart as I write and consider this fact. Without the Civil War, there is no me.
People may wonder why it makes sense to enact a holiday for something that occurred three-hundred and fifty-plus years ago. In fact, some people may wonder what Juneteenth is? I had no idea about it until last year. But as part of my personal awakening after George Floyd’s murder, it was one of my first learnings.
Many of you who read this are marketers. You know the power of Awareness. Many of you who read this are educators. You see the power of the Curriculum. Many of you who read this are volunteers. You know the power of Purpose.
Enacting Juneteenth as a holiday will raise Awareness, ensure Slavery is discussed, and renew the Purpose of social justice advocates. In addition, Slavery and its evil cousins of caste systems, forced labour, debt bondage are still very active worldwide. Therefore, if the United States declares the end of Slavery a national holiday, the amplification impact could be enormous.
You need to understand that descendants of slaves think about Slavery every day. The colour of our skin will not allow us to forget. But, if Slavery had not ended in the United States, how long do you think emancipation would have really lasted in Canada? Imagine never going to the USA for vacation or business if American Slavery was still the law. Let alone the fact that many of us would never have worked for American companies in their Canadian offices or had them hire our firms as suppliers.
Juneteenth becoming a national holiday in America turns a much-needed spotlight on anti-racism. You do not need to apologize if you are just learning about its significance. I certainly do not feel the need. I would instead focus your energies on celebrating Juneteenth. Celebrate it not for marking the end of Slavery but for the beginning of life.