Celebrating Juneteenth

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Juneteenth is not a holiday I’ve ever celebrated before. It is, now, a holiday I will celebrate this year, and every year going forward in a more intentional effort to EMB(RACE) all people and our collective national history.

True story: I didn’t know what Juneteenth was. Until one, divorced-mom night, mid-quarantine 2020, that the kids were with their father and I was all alone in the house, finished all the work, laundry and cleaning that was happening on that particular day, was emotionally fried from reading the news of the day, couldn’t sleep, and needed to mentally check-out. So I did the thing and crashed on the sofa to binge watch Netflix. After a decent scroll through the options, I chose #BlackAF. And Kenya Barris taught me what Juneteenth was. Or at least he put it on my radar and prompted a big old Google-search deep-dive. In the show, his celebration includes pizza. I haven’t so far in my studies learned that to be traditional, but hey, to each his own. More important than with what, is simply that we CELEBRATE JUNETEENTH!

Am I embarrassed by that true story? Of course I am. But we’ve just got no time for that. So I’m just moving right over that feeling real quick and onto: here’s where we are NOW, let’s do better. I, am obviously brand new at this Juneteenth thing. If YOU are a long celebrator of, please, share your ideas and celebrations, and all the good stuff with us, we’d LOVE to hear all about it!

If, in case like me, you skirted through an education that also failed you in this regard, a quick summary of a big deal:

How To Celebrate Juneteenth

Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. Two and a half years, and many historic events later, Union Army General Gordon Granger read federal orders in the city of Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, proclaiming that all enslaved persons in the U.S. state of Texas were free — and that my friends, is the event that Juneteenth commemorates. Apparently, information didn’t travel so fast before all of our modern broadcast ways.

Apparently it still doesn’t given that I’m going on 46 and just learning about this holiday. But I’m here now. And I’m bringing you along with me. I’m also hoping to be lifted and taught by you in comments, whether this is news to you or already an integral part of your summer celebrations. Let’s do the thing and celebrate FREEDOM!

Coronavirus has prompted the cancellation of many live events, our own Philadelphia Juneteenth Festival for instance, but it’s also rallied many to virtual event action. If you are thinking you are all virtual event action’d out, might I suggest you just need an event scheduling refresh. A film producer friend of ours shared a link with us last week, and she, Lex and I, (and thousands of others) together/apart tuned-in last Sunday for what we all agreed was the highlight of our day, probably even our week. The three of us all played the video and music in the background of our Sunday afternoons, we grooved, we danced, we listened, we smiled. It was amazing! While not specific to Juneteenth, there are two more weekly broadcasts of that 3-part event, Blackstar’s Revival, and we highly recommend — so much so, that we’ll all see you there for the next two Sundays, at 2pm EST.

Locally, here in Philadelphia where this week our Mayor is declaring Juneteenth a city holiday, Juneteenth Philly has a button you can click for an online schedule of safe, celebratory events in lieu of our annual parade and festival for 2020. More fun ways to celebrate right here:

Just getting caught up on Juneteenth? Join us. We're learning & figuring out how to celebrate (w/ physical distance), practice allyship & do the work. Start here.

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*Note: Black-owned businesses linked in this post (above and below) are indicated with an asterisk*

Ways To Celebrate Juneteenth 2020

Eat

Get your grill on and BBQ for your family! Just like Memorial Day, for Juneteenth we bust out the BBQ and a family member with mad grill skills, OR, just get the good sauce and it’ll all be OK. I’m loving this (1) BBQ Sauce Box and can’t wait to try this (*2) Pepper Spiced Honey. Need a few more fun recs? We’ll also be trying *this Stealth Mode Chipotle BBQ Sauce and *this DC-based Capital City Mambo Wing Sauce while we’re at it! It’s our first run, we’ll have a full menu for you next year, for now we’re just getting started around here.

We know well enough to know that we’re loving grilled veggies these days, but need one of these (3)Grill Pans to keep the veggies from dropping through. Although, Papa Stan, my next door neighbor grilled some mushrooms to perfection the other night using this veggie griller. He asked if I wanted to borrow it. I said, “nah, I just want you to make more mushrooms, please.”

And we’re keeping it clean around here with my new apron from (4)Hedley & Bennet. Don’t want to get dirty, but still like to fashion yourself a foodie? To support *Black-owned restaurants, start here.


Shop

While shopping might not be a traditional way to celebrate a holiday, shopping the (*5)/ Shop Black Juneteenth event sure is! And obviously every celebration calls for both an (*6) Emb(Race) T-shirt and a (*7) Juneteenth Free-ish shirt! Those and two more Juneteenth tees, also from Black-owned businesses, that I’m in love with are *this black Free-ish and this *Free-ish tee with a ‘lil splash of color.

 


Watch & Listen

In addition to the Revival performance I mentioned above, there are a many other virtual celebrations this weekend. (*8) Jim Austin’s Livestreaming Juneteenth Festival begins the 18th and runs through the 20th, and while not free, the proceeds from the event support three not-for-profit organizations in Dallas. And (*9) Juneteenth Jamboree is one episode of an annual series available through PBS that you can watch anytime. With respect for the storytelling tradition, especially that in our own African American heritage, if like me you are underprepared to tell this story, but have your wide-open-listening ears on, *this is a also great place to start, if you are looking for a lunch date broadcast Friday, for free!! And get the party started with *DJ Jazzy Jeff’s takeover of this livestream Thursday night at 9pm EST (aka right now!)


Read

We’ve learned so much about our highly imperfect systems, and unfortunately, I don’t have a perfect answer yet, so just a few thoughts on books. First, I think the strongest driver, is just that we read them. Where we source them from, is a concern that’s a bit more top of mind these days, as well it should be for all of us. To that end, I don’t have these marked with an asterisk, as the business you buy them from might not be black-owned. However, we have to remember, that at least a portion of the profits go to the author regardless of where the book is purchased from; and ALL of the authors of ALL of these books are Black.

To that end, here’s a short list of books, linked through Amazon, but which you obviously can search titles for on Bookshop.org (we took the liberty of making a list there), or through the local bookshop of your choosing. The thing though, is that a large part of this particular celebration, is remembering the stories, learning them ourselves, and passing them down to the next generation. So to that end, here’s a starter short list set of highly recommended books for all ages. For the kids we’re reading Juneteenth for Mazie, Juneteenth Jamboree and Juneteenth (On My Own Holidays). For young adults we’re reading Juneteenth A Celebration of Freedom. And us adult people are also sneaking in a little fiction (but is it really?) Ralph Ellison, and a little romance (again, but is it really?) in The Brightest Day.

A note: If you’re still learning about Juneteenth and not quite certain on how to celebrate it, here are some suggestions on how we can reflect on the day and learn about the work that needs doing: From Ben & Jerry’s (I know, right?), to practice allyship and to continue engaging.

My friend Dan, a lifetime ago, would call to wish me a Happy Funky Friday weekly. This is me sending that shout-out to you on this Friday June 19th, Juneteenth 2020. I hope you find some time with your loves, to read a bit, to listen to and watch and learn, to eat your bellies full, and to celebrate in general.
xoxo,
A

PS: Follow along with me on Pinterest for more Home Inspiration and other random distraction via pretty visuals. xo, A

6 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for this! I am embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know what Juneteenth was until I saw the episode of “Atlanta” about a Juneteenth party a couple of years ago. (I am from another country and moved to the U.S. in my 20s, but still). I think the fact that so many white people and others are ignorant of it is part of the reason it should be a national holiday. (Obviously there are other racial justice priorities that are way more urgent, but that seems like an easy one!).

    My only suggestion is to read “Invisible Man” before (or instead of) “Juneteenth.” Ralph Ellison never finished “Juneteenth” (it was patched together after his death by a friend, based on thousands of unfinished pages he found) and it is kind of a difficult read. “Invisible Man” has a lot of the same themes and is an amazing, near-perfect novel. I’ve been seeing a lot of people online talk about reading Juneteenth and it makes me sad to think that people might be missing out on Ralph Ellison’s genius.

    • YES. Thank you for spelling ALL of that out. Lucky for me, my education didn’t short me there…Invisible Man was required AP HS reading and again in college, but for anyone that hasn’t, yes….Invisible Man, which clearly Ralph Ellison himself is not-possibly in his own life experience, certainly not after death and in his legacy…I appreciate that Juneteenth was completed posthumously. I actually, kinda, love that about it. Can you even imagine your own friends (or anyone for that matter) picking up and finishing your own work after your death? I’m not sure I trust my friends like that, love them as I do. But I do find it incredible when it happens, and that it did there-and context is everything. That said, your point is well taken, if one were only to have time for one Ralph Ellison, and to want to start in the best of places, then Yes, Invisible Man any old day-it obviously makes a far stronger position statement on the celebration of the spirit of Juneteenth, than even Juneteenth-so literally does;) Who knows though? Maybe this is the summer where everyone gets to read both. We’ll hope for that. Good call woman. xoxo A

    • Beth: THANK YOU! I marked it on my calendar, saved a bookmark, and set a reminder. I’ll see you for 7pm my EST and 6pm your CST for your block party! Love how together/apart brings us more together? xoxo A

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