Happy Juneteenth Day!
Truth be told, I literally just Googled “is it OK to say happy Juneteenth” and found that “Happy Juneteenth Day” is — according to many sources — the appropriate phrase (although others disagree). As I’ve been falling out of love with July 4th these last few years — a day dedicated to celebrating the founding of a country in which only 6% of the population were eligible to vote in that first election, a country that willingly used slavery as a tool of economic growth — I see Juneteenth as the rightful day in which to celebrate true American freedom.
I loved what Carmen, from The Good Karma Blog, had to say on the topic: “…if you’re celebrating the 4th of July you should be celebrating Juneteenth just as hard. If freedom means that much to you, then the end of actual enslavement should be a day of rejoicing.”
I think, quite simply, Carmen’s words get to the absolute heart of the matter: if you care about freedom, you should care — deeply — about Juneteenth.
But there’s nuance here, too. Maybe even some red flags. As a country, we have a tendency to gloss over our failings, prop up our founders as infallible, teach a happier, more heroic version of our country’s history. As a country, we like to focus more on the things we’ve done well (Bill of Rights, Civil Rights Act, WWII D-Day), rather than the truly ugly parts of our history (Trail of Tears, Tulsa Massacre, Japanese Internment Camps, to name just a few).
So I really appreciated when President Biden reminded us that “Great nations don’t ignore their most painful moments…they embrace them. Great nations don’t walk away. We come to terms with the mistakes we made. And in remembering those moments, we begin to heal and grow stronger.”
This Juneteenth, here are a few ways that Mike and I will be doing our part to make sure that our family, the boys included, continue to look beyond the white-washed version of history Mike and I grew up hearing. We may not attend any 4th of July parades, but working to shatter the illusion of our country’s innocence feels much more patriotic.
Here’s to freedom for all.
5 Recommendations For Juneteenth Reading & Listening
Throughline’s Podcast on the history of policing – Last year, we had tried to watch the documentary, 13th, with the boys, but had to shut it off because the beginning was too violent. Throughline’s American Police episode, however, touches on similar subjects. This podcast also clearly explains how modern-day police forces evolved from slave patrols (in the south), as well as immigrant patrols (my words) in the north and understanding this history feels like a key piece to understanding the mess we’re currently in. The good news (if it exists) is that we know exactly what to do to change it. (And, in fact, we’ve been creating reports on exactly how to fix it since 1919.) Full disclosure: Pax (10) fell asleep listening to this podcast, but Raines (13) was interested. We did have to keep stopping and discussing because there’s a ton of assumed history Raines didn’t know (Prohibition, for example), and use of a few big words. There’s also a couple of descriptions of violence that were tough to hear.
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime – We listened to the Audible version of Born a Crime a couple of years ago, on a roadtrip with the boys. It’s basically Trevor Noah’s life story, and therefore mostly takes place in South Africa, but it’s a fascinating look at systemic racism, and the structures that hold it in place (or don’t). Trevor is hysterically funny (and this book is no different), but he’s whip smart, and views the world through a really unique lens. In addition to gaining a better understanding of racism, my kids also came away with a deep understanding that there are always two sides to every story, and ideas on how to better connect with people who are different from you. There are some tough parts in this book and bad language, but we still prefers the original (read aloud by Trevor himself). There is also, however, a version of this book for kids, if the language is an issue.
Stamped, For Kids – We tried listening to Ibram X. Kendi’s book Stamped with the boys (primarily because we wanted to listen to it,) but it went wayyyy over their heads. So next up for us is Stamped, For Kids. Jason Reynolds took Mr. Kendi’s Stamped and packaged it in a way that’s more accessible. Dashka Slater called it a “not-a-history book” although it offers a less white-washed version of some parts of U.S. history, as well as a “field guide to American racism.” Other reviewers have stated that this is THE book for having open discussions about race with your kids.
Presidential Podcast, Jefferson – I know I’ve talked about Mike’s love of the Presidential Podcast before, but if you were to pick only one episode to listen to…he thinks it’s Jefferson’s. Mike found the episode fascinating, and completely representative of this dualism of America (land of the free…and slavery). Apparently Jefferson was this absolute revolutionary who was committed to empowering the everyman…but yet found it laughable(!!) if women thought about political issues and also wrote a whole piece about how it was proper and appropriate to take enslaved children away from their families and sell them. While one might be tempted to call him a ‘man of the times’ he…wasn’t. Most of the founding fathers freed their slaves after they died but Jefferson, of course, did NOT. Jefferson stood out as a hardened supporter of slavery, even in his own time. I’m currently feeling some kind of way about our country’s tendency to Jefferson worship. Hmm.
Presidential Podcast, Special edition on the Spanish flu pandemic – This special episode came out after the novel coronarvirus, when the host, Lillian Cunningham, realized that she had done an entire episode on President Wilson with no mention of the Spanish Flu of 1918. So she dug deeper, and found that Wilson had, in effect, set up a propaganda machine to keep pandemic deaths as secret as possible. During the height of the pandemic, Wilson drove people into parades to drum up support for war bonds, and sent infected soldiers overseas against the pleas of the Surgeon General of the Army. Newspapers who reported on the pandemic were charged under Wilson’s newly made ‘Sedition Act’, and they frequently threw people in jail who spoke out. It’s hard to believe, even as I type this, that I’m talking about the United States. SEE? Illusion of innocence. Damn.
One way of teaching the Tulsa Race Massacre – This piece in the NYT by Hannibal B. Johnson starts with one teacher’s epic lesson on the Tulsa Race Massacre. I can’t stop thinking about it.
A Few Of My Favorite Black Content Creators & Consultants
If you guys aren’t yet following along…here are a few of my favorite IG accounts (and/or blogs) written by Black content creators. Go on over and give them some love, use their links, etc.
Kat – I have nothing but love and respect for our very own Kat. (She’s also recently taken a full-time position with us as Head of Video and we couldn’t be more excited!!). Head on over to IG (@thekatrinanichole) to support her directly. She’s like a breath of fresh air, that one.
Chinny – Huge congrats to Chinny — she just had her second baby!!! AHHHHH my baby fever can’t take it, gang. We’re in dire need of a new baby popping up at our team meetings! There will be more from Chinny soon…but until then, give her some love on IG (@chiniluv).
Latonya Yvette – She’s one of the OG bloggers (she calls herself part of the OG second wave, haha) and her blog has long been one of my favorites. Latonya has also launched a paid newsletter subscription service for those of us who are big fans of her writing [raises hand]. Her newsletters are an absolute treat to curl up with on a Sunday morning. You can see a sample of her newsletters and subscribe, here. Highly recommend.
Carmen – I’m a huge fan of Carmen’s IG account (@thegoodcarmablog) and blog. I came for her Montessori tips (she’s a Montessori preschool teacher) but stayed for her commentary on social justice and…reality TV. (Seriously…if I know *anything* about recent pop culture, it’s likely from Carmen’s IG stories, haha.) It’s an unusual mix, but I love it. And she’ll do Montessori consultations, too. Check out the link in her IG bio for her Montessori consulting.
Chelsea Leigh – I met Chelsea when she was the Director of Global Marketing at rewardStyle, and she was literally one of my very favorite parts about working with rewardStyle. She’s smart, funny, and talented. Chelsea recently branched out on her own, so if anyone is looking for help with creative direction, content strategy, social media, etc.,…I can’t recommend Chelsea highly enough.
Chloe Digital – If I didn’t already have a dedicated (and partially free) tech and data analytics team (hi husband and Peter), I’d 100% be using the services of Chloe Digital. The founder, Chloe Watts, was another fellow tech nerd that I met at a blogging conference, and have been following her journey — from a one-women show to the thriving (and seriously helpful) company she’s built. If any of you bloggers out there need tech/data help, Chloe’s amazing.
Ceta Walters – Chicago-based Ceta Walters is the beautiful, 6 ft. tall, breast-cancer-surviving, divorced mom of two behind the IG account @clarkandstone. She is a total badass with great style, humor and stunningly gorgeous photos. Her account is pure joy.
Tiffany Turner Moon – If your jam is activism sprinkled with accessible, everyday style and a healthy dose of humor…Tiffany’s your girl. I’ve been following her on IG (@tiffanyturnermoon) for about a year now and finally had the pleasure of meeting her last month on a panel we did together. She’s kind and funny and I went from a big fan to a big BIG fan.
The Traveling Child – Even when my wanderlust isn’t at an all-time high…the adventures of the Hambrick Family (aka @thetravelingchild) are an absolute delight. Right now they’re in Alaska, and I’m so jealous I can barely see straight. Waiting (not-so-patiently) for that article to drop on their blog.
A Few Black-Owned Businesses I Love
If you feel like shopping this weekend, I highly encourage you to spend some of your hard-earned dollars supporting a Black-owned business. The Mom Edit has put together a much more comprehensive Black-Owned Business Shopping Directory, but below are a few of my personal favs.
Lem Lem – Longtime fan of this brand. The brand itself is Black-owned, and material is hand-woven in Ethiopia, too. After a week in North Carolina, I realized that my usual coverup (denim cut-offs, nothing else) were both too hot for the climate and not enough coverage from the intense sun. So I’m currently debating between these two gorgeous options: short or long?
AAKS – I’m a pretty strict straw-bag-carrying kind of girl (especially in the summer) and am completely obsessed with A A K S, specifically their cute little straw tote. It’s like my Clare V pot de miel, but a little bigger, with a closure, and fun details.
The Tiny Closet – This slow-fashion, sustainably made brand makes the most timeless pieces. The dress I picked up last year is now gone, but I’m going to pull the trigger on this seriously gorgeous linen top.
Sika Designs – Remember this dress? I finally stalked it long enough to snag one in my size (they run small, so size up 2 sizes…or maybe just use their sizing chart). Nordstrom has a brand-new selection of Sika dresses (so much to swoon over), as does Anthropologie. Ooo! Anthro even has the same style of dress I have, in a gorgeous yellow (available in petite AND plus sizes, too).
Souk + Sepia – This Black-owned boutique is super fun to browse, thanks to this page of completely styled looks. It’s like browsing an old copy of InStyle Magazine (remember those looks they used to do?), and I LOVE it.
Gwen Beloti – This Black-owned jewelry brand hits that sweet spot of relative affordability…without being cheaply made. Gwen’s pieces are 14k gold filled rather than gold plated (which rubs off in the shower — something I’ve tested too often), and she’s basically the TME team’s go-to source for delicate little pieces. I’m snagging this really pretty chain necklace for layering (or not) this summer.
Mantra Mugs – Yup, still some of my favorite things to gift (or get). I have “I LOVE HIS GLASSES” and a custom one “U.P. PRINCESS” (an inside joke with my husband). If I were to make a complete set, I’d also add “PER MY LAST EMAIL” for the office, and maybe a few MORNING SUNSHINE‘s for the boys. (Actually, I’d probably do custom ones for the boys. Maybe Pax’s nickname, “THE ROO” or an inside joke for Raines: “THESTOR MY PRINCE”.)
Grant BLVD – This Philly-based, Black-owned brand makes seriously cool pieces out of vintage fabrics (or, in this case, old shirts). My favorite is the Nina top (and I think I have a size medium or large — the sizing is pretty forgiving).
Yubi Beauty – If you haven’t yet tried these makeup brushes from Yubi Beauty, they really are a game-changer. They even make my low-coverage CC creams look pretty flawless (and feel good on your face, too). I use the sponge under my eyes, on the rare days I wear concealer, and the brush everywhere else.
Two Places I’m Donating To This Weekend
There are many good organizations worth donating to, but the two that I personally am choosing are No More Secrets, and Black Voters Matter.
No More Secrets is a Philly-based organization whose aim is to end period poverty. Too many women (and girls) are missing work, school, etc., because they didn’t have enough money for menstrual supplies. This powerhouse mom-and-daughter duo deliver more than 38,000 menstrual products a week (and almost 2 million products last year). They’ve also got a center up and running that provides a safe space for women to learn about menstrual health and wellness, and this is a really direct way to support women.
Black Voters Matter is an organization dedicated to increasing voter turnout in Black communities. “Effective voting” they say, “allows a community to determine its own destiny.” Unlike our founding fathers (and that 6% nonsense), I do believe in real, actual democracy.
Happy Juneteenth Day, everyone.