We kicked off a new content series: our monthly YouTube Livestream! Each month, we’ll bring a timely topic that we’re getting repeatedly asked about, thinking about, or that’s a growth edge for us. We’re very excited to bring you content in a new format and hope you are too!
Our first Livestream was on June 17th, and was titled “Authentic Solidarity: Celebrating Juneteenth + Pride,” and in it we talked about these two June holidays and how we can show up as allies for both causes in respectful and affirming ways.
In case you missed it, you can catch a recording of the June event on our YouTube page, or listen to the audio on our podcast – click here.
Below are some highlights from the event, some additional thoughts and resources, and some follow-up from audience comments and questions!
We hope you’ll join our July livestream “Nation, Citizenship, and Place” on July 29th at 12pm CT. Register here!
Terms and definitions
- Authentic Solidarity: Taking action to support liberation for historically oppressed populations with identities that you, yourself, may not hold.
- Authenticity is about showing up for yourself — seeing, naming, and moving from a place of integrated truth, rather than performative behavior or pretense.
- Solidarity is about showing up for others — honoring others and our interdependence, recognizing that nobody is free unless everyone is free.
- Juneteenth: Celebrates the anniversary of one of the earliest liberation moments for Black Americans; “the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States” (juneteenth.com)
- Pride: Celebrates the LGBTQIA+ liberation movement by commemorating the Stonewall Riots; “celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan” (Library of Congress)
- President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation September 22, 1862. It became effective on January 1, 1863, declaring that all enslaved persons in the Confederate States of America in rebellion and not in Union hands were freed.
- December 6, 1865, ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution abolished chattel slavery nationwide
- More isolated geographically, planters and other slaveholders had migrated into Texas from eastern states to escape the fighting, and many brought enslaved people with them, increasing by the thousands the enslaved population in the state at the end of the Civil War. Although most lived in rural areas, more than 1,000 resided in both Galveston and Houston by 1860, with several hundred in other large towns. By 1865, there were an estimated 250,000 enslaved people in Texas.
- On the morning of Monday, June 19, 1865, Union Major General Gordon Granger arrived on the island of Galveston, Texas, to take command of the more than 2,000 federal troops recently landed in the department of Texas to enforce the emancipation of its slaves and oversee a peaceful transition of power, additionally nullifying all laws passed within Texas during the war by Confederate lawmakers.
- “The celebration of June 19th was coined ‘Juneteenth’ and grew with more participation from descendants. The Juneteenth celebration was a time for reassuring each other, for praying and for gathering remaining family members. Juneteenth continued to be highly revered in Texas decades later, with many former enslaved people and descendants making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date” (juneteenth.com)
- Today, Juneteenth is starting to become a corporate holiday, offering PTO to employees and Congress, on June 16, passed a bill recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday
- Although not the FIRST time that LGBTQIA+ folks fought back, The Stonewall Riots were a very big turning point for LGBTQIA+ people and the community.
- In the predawn hours of June 28, 1969, hundreds of people from the LGBTQIA+ community fought back against police who would , a phenomenon recurrent throughout the U.S at that time. They threw everything from pennies to bottles and bricks, and they kept the protests going for 6 days.
- A month later, a “Gay Power” demonstration took place in Washington Square Park
- The first pride march was held a year later on the last Sunday of June 1970 and commemorated the one year anniversary of the stonewall uprising as the birth of the gay liberation movement. Almost three to five thousand people marched.
- Today, “The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally… Celebrations include pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia and concerts, and LGBTQ Pride Month events attract millions of participants around the world” (Library of Congress).
Observing the Holidays
Why celebrate them together? Intersectionality!
- They are not mutually exclusive. In fact, it’s MORE powerful if we observe these two in concert. This is solidarity!
- Reframing away from zero-sum toward mutuality.
- Civil rights movement and gay liberation movement were happening right along side each other; it’s not a coincidence. Furthermore, Stonewall was, in many ways, started and led by queer and trans people of color
- These recognitions and celebrations are stronger when celebrated together.
Juneteenth traps to avoid:
- Requiring Black employees to work (not recognizing it as a holiday)
- Or worst yet, giving as a holiday without any meaningful acknowledgment of structural/institutional racism that is causing harm to your Black employees or stakeholders
- Ironically, more white and privileged people had Juneteenth off this year than Black and essential workers did!
- Tokenize Black employees or expecting that they will do the labor/speaking on behalf of all Black people.
- Spotlighting Juneteenth as extraction, and not protection.
Pride traps to avoid:
How to do it right
- In any situation: ask yourself, “Why am I doing anything? What does Juneteenth/Pride mean to me and my community?” this is the key to authenticity.
- Commit year round, not just in June
- Lift up the voices of historically marginalized community members
- Now that Juneteenth is a federal holiday, we hope to see the private sector and nonprofit organizations follow suit. If you cannot honor the holiday, we recommend providing a floating holiday (an extra day of PTO to be used when your employee chooses) and/or to pay overtime to your employees who are required to work that day.
- Explore what it means to have corporate reparations!!
- Release a statement recognizing/honoring the day, history, and members of your community
- Think about/discuss/analyze how your organization supports racial equity, both in employee population and the broader ecosystem (customers/clients/audience/users, vendors, partners, etc).
- Most, if not all, proceeds from LGBTQ+/rainbow themed products should go to LGBTQ+ centered non profits.
- Workplace rights, protections, support, and policies for LGBTQIA+ at your organization.
- Supporting political candidates/office holders who support LGBTQIA+ rights, identities, and people
- Long term policy/advocacy for rights, protections and resources for LGBTQIA+ people/identities/communities
Livestream Audience Q&A
Here are a few of the questions that members of the audience shared during our event. Please feel free to send yours to firstname.lastname@example.org!
What is your favorite Juneteenth / Pride memory?
Rada: This year was the first year that Evanston (where I grew up and home to The Darkest Horse, just north of Chicago) had a Pride celebration, and I was on the organizing committee. We had a youth car parade, to avoid crowds and potential COVID exposure, and at the end we gathered in a large outdoor circle and invited folx to share what they’re “Proud To Be,” and hearing all the youth nervously and bravely say out loud things like “I’m proud to be a nonbinary lesbian” or “I’m proud to be a Black trans man” and have the whole crowd cheer and clap was really wonderful. I was proud to contribute to a space where youth can proudly express their authentic identities!
Chanté: I remember learning all about Juneteenth (aka Jubilee Day) back when I was a young teenager. In fact, I was a student at The Academy for Scholastic and Personal Success for many summers back in Iowa where we discussed Juneteenth every year. It struck me that none of my white friends or community members knew anything about this historical event and that I never learned about it in my advanced history classes (at my predominantly white high school). Fast forward to 2021, it’s a federal holiday and everyone knows about it!
It’s a reminder to me that what’s right isn’t always popular. I’m also immensely grateful to the elders of my community who have paved the way and have continued our tradition of cross-generational dialogue (and annual mid-year celebration). Without them, we wouldn’t be here! And while we’ve made great progress, we have so much more learning and unlearning to do, but it’s time to do it together!
I struggle how to ‘show’ authenticity without being perceived as appropriating. I authentically ‘feel’ it, but don’t know how to show that support
We hear you! Here are a few thoughts:
- Do you need to show it? Why? Answering what matters to you about showing it can help guide you toward an authentic way of expressing that solidarity. And, there’s a lot of power in the unconscious ways that you do show your solidarity — even down to the non-verbal messages that your nervous system communicates to the people around you. Truly feeling it is the most important part!
- A great way to show support is by supporting and getting out of the way. Is there an opportunity to speak, present, join a team, attend an event, etc that you have access to, but where you could transfer your access to someone with an identity that you seek to be in solidarity with? What can you do to leverage your privilege to lift someone else up?
- You can volunteer to play a behind-the-scenes supporting role in an event! For example, Rada volunteered at a Juneteenth celebration by doing things like serving food, cleaning up, and helping at a craft table, so that Black community members could just have a good time. You could volunteer in similar ways for Pride celebrations!
In any instance, the best solidarity is intentional, authentic, and totally comfortable without any recognition or fanfare for the support.
You mentioned that there’s conversations about cops and kink community at pride. If you’re comfortable answering, what are your thoughts on this/what are other opinions being expressed about it
Great question! We wrote an article on this, you can read it here.
- Juneteenth (National Museum of African American History + Culture) https://nmaahc.si.edu/events/juneteenth
- Book: Transgender History by Susan Stryker
- Juneteenth: An Overview, Celebrations and Resources https://www.csd.org/stories/juneteenth-an-overview-celebrations-and-resources/
- 24 Ways to Celebrate Pride Month (remotely) at Work https://teambuilding.com/blog/virtual-pride-month-ideas
- Juneteenth at Work https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/exreq/pages/details.aspx?erid=1704
- GLSEN with Pride https://www.glsen.org/glsen-with-pride