June 19th is recognized as the day in 1865 when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, and informed residents that the Civil War was over and slavery abolished.
Walmart pulled a Juneteenth-themed ice cream off its’ shelves a couple of weeks ago, but it’s not just Walmart. Many people have walked into a different business trying to make a Juneteenth sale or putting out products to be performative.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion experts say ice cream for example has nothing to do with freedom from slavery or the ongoing efforts for equality. They say there are things Walmart could’ve done that could more tangibly help the black community or improve their quality of life. That’s something that great value ice cream sale wasn’t going to do.
So with just a couple of days until Juneteenth, DEI experts warn there are some Dos and Don’ts for the new federal holiday.
They say the first thing to do to honor Juneteenth is simple: educate yourself on what the holiday is about and don’t just try to enjoy an extra day off.
“We want to be experiencing a sense of joy during this holiday,” said Interaction Institute for Social Change president Kelly Bates. “We don’t want to feel like it’s incumbent upon us to educate every white person or organization about this holiday. You can go on the Internet for that.”
Do find ways to support black vendors, businesses, and black employees, but don’t try to make a profit off the holiday.
“I would really hope and consider that folks don’t just take the day off to purchase a car because it’s on sale,” said Co-host of Inclusive Collective Podcast Nadia N. Butt.
Do find ways to intentionally create diversity equity and inclusion year-round, don’t just highlight it this week
“Investing in local black businesses and black nonprofits and having black leaders in your senior leadership team where they have decision-making power,” said Bates. “Trying to think about ways that you can retain and recruit black talent, which is really important for Boston, which is historically not been as successful at that. That’s what people are looking for. They’re not looking for a quick fix.”
For people of color, the DEI experts say do make sure to use this as a time to celebrate and enjoy, knowing that there’s been a lot of trauma and it’s a chance to fully be ourselves.
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