Good Rule of Thumb: If you do not discuss slavery, you should not discuss Juneteenth.
But for my unmelanated friends that want to honor the day, first and foremost of course pay Black people directly. But outside of investing in Black thought leaders on TikTok, I have an idea for a way to recognize the holiday internally, and within families. I'm calling it Atoneteenth.
Yom Kippur is a holy holiday in which Jewish people fast and atone for misdeeds, intentional or not, to have a better next year. I think this would be great for white people to apply to Juneteenth (especially now that many white people have the day off for the Federal holiday).
We've all had our values warped by the systems into which we were born, so there will be much to re-evaluate. BUT, the focus cannot be on how terrible "those people" were "back then". You and "those people" are just humans who have been influenced by their environment. I know it is uncomfortable to see ourselves in historical figures (by design), but anytime you find yourself leaning into "how far we've come" remember this:
"If you stick a knife in my back 9 inches and pull it out 6 inches, there's no progress. If you pull it all the way out, that's not progress. The progress is healing the wound that the blow made.. And they won't even admit the knife is there."
Juneteenth is dedicated to celebrating the day the LAST of the enslaved people were actually TOLD that the confederates actually lost and that they were free. Of course these men didn't run back home and tell their 'slaves' that they lost the war and that they can leave! Confederates were forced (by a union army full of free Black men) to release their captives two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. And since that day, Black people have been hearing, "you should be grateful for how far we've come." yuck...
Btw... did we really think the South just... accepted their loss? In the 1800's?? It sounds so... uh... familiar. Oof. If we had acknowledged this part of history, we probably wouldn't be so surprised by the things we are seeing today.
But now we know better. So we're gonna do better!
This year for Juneteenth, I went LIVE to read Caste, and then had a great convo with Portia and Caroline. It's a long one, but you can check it out here.