Texas born, and surrounded by black and brown people in all my schooling, I still had to look up what exactly Juneteenth was on my own, at an embarrassing age. I did so because the Juneteenth parade in my neighborhood was so fabulous, I just had to know what exactly we were celebrating. Most of my friends will admit they didn’t know about Juneteentth till they moved to Texas, and, taking a short and informal community poll this week - many still do not know what it is or what it stands for.
This is an oversight.
One of many.
This one is big because it promotes a certain kind of willful ignorance that I simply cannot bear to live with. Honestly, can you?
It’s not so much that I feel a typical pride for what makes a US national holiday, it’s noticing that this type of willful ignorance is so big, so blatant, that now we go about our days blind to our country’s painful history, still not equating that freedom from being enslaved never equaled freedom from oppression.
Black History is American History.
Juneteenth is a day that commemorates African American freedom. While this date has numerous significance, it became an official state holiday in Texas on Jan 1, 1980 - 4 years before I was born. Marked Juneteenth by African American state legislator Al Edwards, this was the first emancipation celebration to receive official state recognition. 1980. 4 years before I was born.
Recognizing this day, Freedom Day, as a national holiday would ensure that younger generations and future leaders will not make this oversight. It will also ensure that we, as a nation and a globe, acknowledge not only the history but more so, the inherent value of a healthy education system as well as the indispensable necessity of actively and aggressively dismantling systemic racism.
Juneteenth is already recognized as a ceremonial holiday in 47 of the 50 US States and District Of Columbia.
If we are taught that public holidays are to signal importance and reflect the values we hold dear… educate yourself and contribute your voice by signing the petition to make Juneteenth a national holiday at http://chng.it/fDCQ9Jdgnd.
From Texas with love,
Thank you for this post!
Thank you Adriene. I live in Australia and only heard of Juneteenth this month, first from Seth Godin, then on our TV news, now here. Thank you for taking the time to explain it and bring it to light!
Hi Adriene.....: I love your yoga channel and this blog. I live in Canada and did not know what the Juneteenth holiday was either. Thank goodness I know now and thank you❤️❤️❤️...... Lots of hugs from Debbie in Calgary
YES, thank you for raising the issue of cultural racial bias. It’s in the water we drink and air we breathe. It’s unavoidable if you live in America. Let’s all do so much more to recognize and change it. Enough.
Thank you so much. I appreciate your willingness to speak out. Thank you for using your voice to make our world a better place. I have tears in my eyes because I can’t believe things are actually starting to change. It means so much. Thank you.
This piece was very interesting and struck a chord, as up until Friday, I had not heard of this day. I live in England and as a country we have played our part in the slave trade; which is now being actively scrutinised (in good and bad ways as per) and reflected upon.
As a Mum to a 6yr old I now, more than ever, feel a sense of responsibility to educate him and to teach him to look at the ‘who’ and not the ‘what’ in people. His innocent soul just looks, a little confused and bewildered, as to why everyone can’t just get a long and why some are marginalised and disrespected. This innate feeling that all should be loved and treated equally is what needs to be harnessed, and on my part, nurtured and grown.
I am also curious to know why it is not a ceremonial holiday In all states? This is my active learning for today, to find out the answer.
Should we not also be remembering those who are still enslaved being bought and sold with no rights and abandoned by their embassy in their hour of need. These women work in dreadful condititions are often badly abused and are being dumped by their employers outside the Ethiopian embassy which appears to have just closed its doors to them.
What is happening to these women in the article you share is wrong and sad. Thank you for sharing this with all of us, Jacqueline. Sadly, there are still many enslaved people all around the world. We all need to keep fighting for freedom AND equality for everyone. It is a massive problem but there are many, many of us that believe in equality. We all need to do what we can, where we can, and keep going.
Thank you for coming into our lives and bringing so much sincerity in everything you say and do
Eres un a gran maestra. Tienes razón y apoyo tu peticiones.
Gracias por tu cariño en estos momentos tan difícil. Eres una inspiración.
I look forward to your love letters every Sunday. I forward them to friends and family. Hasta pronto.
Abrazos, La Luz
My dear Adrienne,
Thank you for taking the time and effort to write such an articulate and thoughtful expression of what Juneteenth stands for. I add my name to the petition.
I can hardly find the words to express what your Juneteeth post means to me. I'll try. Yoga is such a spiritual practice for me. I love YWA because you are so real and you teach from a place that honors the mind and spirit as much as the body. Because of this, I knew you had to love your black and brown followeres as much as everyone else. Not just acknowledging, but using your platform to speak our against racism and support a national holiday for Juneteenth lets me know you are truly my sister. I am a 59 year old African American woman, and I've never seen anyone who looks like me practicing in any of your class pictures or any of the classes I've attended in person for that matter. It's a huge relief to know that it's not because someone who looks like me would not be made to feel uncomfortable with you. I've been following/practicing with you for 4 years. Yoga literally helped save my sanity. Thank you for all you do to promote happiness, health and hope. You're one of my sheros. Be well.
I love your honesty and conscious move towards reparation and recognition of the slave trade and slavery per se in your country. There is no such day as Juneteenth in the UK as most people are unaware of British colonial involvement in what is called the “Triangular Trade” - British Isles to Africa to Caribbean/Americas and back to Britain. Slaves were kept on the other side of the world mainly apart from those brought here to service their owners in Bronte/Jane Austen society. So it is with joy that I read your missive which affords hope - in my own lifetime - and the possibility of further recognition and self-learning (we still don’t teach Black History in schools but we are allowed to be Black every October - Black History Month). Thank you for finding out about your Texan history. You must be proud to live where Juneteenth was made the first national holiday in the US. I would be too. ✊ Helen (charles) xx
Yes! For sure! But also incorporate the learning component ... around Juneteenth, Tulsa 1921, lynchings and so much more. Time for us white folk to awaken to black history because it is OUR history.
I agree. Juneteenth should be a National Holiday. Thank you, Adriene, for your post -- simple and sweet. It should just be. Why we don't commemorate something so important for so many lives is typical in America when it is not white lives. And even more typical when we are trying to deny our history in order to propagate the idea that we are so great as we are, that Manifest Destiny was a good thing, and that everyone is equal under the law -- so much mendacity in America.
Finally, we are standing up with our Black brothers and sisters to tear down the lies of white America and perhaps make real reparations to communities and to its people who have suffered at our hands.
I agree it should be a Nat’l holiday, I wish you would dive deeper and say the names of the black people killed by white cops. My daughter’s and I are doing a lot of reading, a lot of Yoga by Adriane classes, and it’s awakening so much in me, I tried Stand Up Paddle Yoga, and I’m 57, and slightly chubby, I couldn’t have done it without you, but the email about Int’l yoga day, a solstice and a full moon, could have had a mention of compassion toward oppressed people.
Hi Teresa, you might be interested in reading some of Adriene's Sunday Weekly Letters where she has talked about this more. You can read some of her letters here on the website.
Thank you for this post, Adriene. I am embarrassed to admit that I was not aware of the Juneteenth day until recently.
I only learnt about Juneteenth this year as well, wish I'm pretty ashamed about. Although I live in the UK, most US holidays get talked about on UK news. Not this one. I was pleased to learn about it, but sad because of the way in which it became so well known.
I hope change is for real. I'm signing and listening and learning.