Celebrate Juneteenth – #EquityActions

The moment has turned into a movement and the movement requires Equity Actions! Movements are life changing, sustainable, system changing and disruptive. George Floyd’s murder was not just a 8:46 moment, it instead is the catalyst for a worldwide movement that is changing the way we appreciate Being Black in America. How do I know the world is changing? I know because today many people from far and wide wished me “Happy Juneteenth.”

You may ask yourself why is wishing me or anyone else “Happy Juneteenth” changing the world. I’m glad you asked. Let me tell you how. Do you remember where you were last Juneteenth? Do you remember what you did that day? Do you remember what acts of service you did that day? Do you remember who you wished Happy Junteenth? Do you remember how many corporations wished their employees “Happy Juneteenth” and let those employees have the day off? I wonder what are your answers to these questions. I guess I should have started with this important question. Did your white friends and some of your Black friends even know of Juneteenth and when it occurred. Think about it, I’ll wait.

This post is not about Juneteenth. If you are interested in learning more about Juneteenth, please Google it. After you read up on Juneteenth, realize that it is not a Black Holiday or Black History moment. Juneteenth is an important piece of American history that is conveniently left out of the history books similar to many accomplishments and celebrations of Black people in America. I digress. This post is not about Juneteenth, instead it is about Equity Actions that should take place after Juneteenth is over.

In order to understand and consider these proposed equity actions, we must examine what we have witnessed on Juneteenth this year.

Corporations have made public statements about Junteenth.

Corporations have given employees Juneteenth, as a paid holiday.

Corporations have invested in Juneteenth events for their Black Employee Networks.

CEOs have attended Juneteenth educational seminars to learn about the history of Juneteenth.

Media outlets and media companies have declared it “Juneteenth Day” and have offered free viewing of movies defined as Juneteenth or Black Lives Matter collections.

Retail stores have offered Juneteenth discounts on purchases.

Corporations have created videos discussing the history and importance of Juneteenth.

White people have said Happy Juneteenth more today than they have in the last 20 years.

White suburban America has created Juneteenth celebrations planned throughout the entire weekend.

Juneteenth memes, t-shirt’s, cups and other paraphernalia are being purchased at an increased level.

Elected officials are consistently mentioning Juneteenth in speeches and voter registration drives.

Juneteenth has taken on a new identity and its popularity far exceeds the previous 154 years of Juneteenth celebrations.

I am grateful for the recognition of Juneteenth this year. It deserves the recognition, celebration and sharing of the greatness of Juneteenth. This recognition is long overdue. However, I can’t help but think the reason for this recognition and celebration of Juneteenth is because in 8:46 the world saw the murder of George Floyd in South Minneapolis. I am sure last year’s Juneteenth celebration was not as inclusive as today. In addition to all of these acts of genuine kindness, I ask that those who have exhibited these acts seek to add some #equityactions to this list. I am sure you have your own actions, but I offer these as alternatives.

Corporations should publicly report your disaggregated racial data for all people who work for your organizations. This means letting the world know how many people from different races are in positions of leadership in your company. Do not lump this data together in a category called people of color. Be transparent.

Corporations should make a commitment to increase the number of Black C-Suite executives by 25%, the number of Black board members by 25%, the number of a Black senior leaders by 25% and the number of a Black interns by 25%.

Corporations should make Juneteenth an every year paid holiday. During this holiday, corporations should match all employee donations on Juneteenth, dollar for dollar, in order to fund virtual public school educational events and other events that showcase the history of Juneteenth.

Corporations should invest the time of their government relations people to lobby for the inclusion of a culturally designed Black history curriculum for all public school students.

Corporations should invest the time of their government relations people to lobby for true police reform and accountability. Silence is not an option.

Corporations should adopt a succession plan program that invests in a Black leadership pipeline that prepares Black employees for future director, senior leadership and C-Suite positions.

CEOs should retain equity coaches for all senior level executives. Coaches will provide leaders with guidance on making decisions with an equitable lens. Coaches will also work with CEOs to hold other executive leaders accountable for equity actions or inactions.

Corporations should increase their overall spend with Black owned businesses by 25%.

Corporations should increase their spend with Black media by 25% and increase authentic partnerships with Black owned media.

Corporations should allocate 3% or their net revenue to invest in Black, Latino, Asian and LGBTQ businesses. All of these businesses have experienced disproportionate negative impacts from racism, discrimination, CoVid19 and lack of authentic investment. This investment must be geared towards building infrastructure and capacity.

White people should make some new Black friends. It is one thing to attend a Black Lives Matter march, have Black guests on a panel your company is hosting, befriend Black processionals on Linked In or Facebook and work with Black people. It is another thing to have a friend you can share ideas, thoughts, concerns, solutions and heartfelt love for. When no Black people are in the room making decisions or in your friend circle, your decisions are made through a limited lens and have limited reach. These decisions can also negatively impact the people you are trying to assist.

White people should identify this issue or concern as a Black issue and not a people of color issue. Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom (so called freedom) for Black slaves in Galveston, Texas who received notice of their freedom in 1865. Slaves that were stolen from their land in 1619, enslaved for over 200 years and lied to about their supposed freedom. This is American History about Black people. Any solutions or suggestion for investment related to Juneteenth and the murder of George Floyd, should be for Black People. The unintentional benefit of focusing on Black people for the first time in a long time may eventually benefit all races and if not, it will still benefit a race of people that has been intentionally oppressed in America for over 400 years. Let’s all be ok with that as well.

Now that Junteenth weekend is coming to a close, let’s not let it end with a mere “Happy Juneteenth” or a discount on movies, music and all things Black. Let it be the genesis of how we will intentionally change our actions through investment, hiring, promotion, social justice and racial equity. Next year you might forget to wish me “Happy Juneteenth” or even forget to increase the Black movies on my Netflix and Amazon Prime accounts. You might even forget to give me the day off on Juneteenth, but never forget to treat me with humanity, dignity, respect and equity. My history is American history and my being and well being should mean much more to you than a greeting of “Happy Juneteenth.”

Happy Junteenth!

JB

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