by Sedora Tantraphol
Today marks Juneteenth — a holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States and the celebration of the achievements and contributions of Black people to our communities. Beginning this year, our team will be honoring the importance of June 19, 1865, and trying to contribute to a greater understanding of our country’s history of systemic racism, by making this day a permanent paid staff holiday. We have always honored Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy by making MLK Day a holiday, and it’s time that we mark this day as well.
We also deeply understand that it’s not enough for companies to begin to mark a holiday about freedom without also taking steps to do our part to dismantle structural racism and implicit bias. While the Black Lives Matter movement is certainly not new, the important work being done by #BlackLivesMatter protests that emerged in the wake of the brutal killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 (and the many other tragic Black deaths before and after) have brought new awareness and focus to anti-racism work everyone should be responsible for.
Allyship and holding space
As allies, #TeamMoonsail has chosen in recent weeks to hold space for the voices that most urgently needed to ring out: first and foremost, those who, on a daily basis, deeply feel pain, fear, exhaustion, anger, anxiety and stress from living at the intersection of unjust systems.
We have also intentionally held space for those who have long been advocates for a better way forward together, those who are newly awoken to these injustices and are inspired to create real, lasting change, and those who needed an opening of empowerment against the backdrop of an illness we are all powerless to fight.
We listened to Black Americans share their pain and perspectives. We listened to Black people who said, rightly, that it is not their job to educate everyone around them. We listened to what Black activists and journalists said everyone should understand.
As a team, we held space for ourselves to come together to talk openly; we identified the organizations fighting for racial justice that we committed to support through monthly recurring donations; and we said we know we need to hold ourselves accountable to continue to do more.
As a team, we are passionate about empowering stories. But we also acknowledge that narratives have historically been, and continue to be, used in destructive ways against certain groups of people. The predominant narrative around the status quo in America has silenced the voices of Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) calling for equal treatment, rights, and opportunities.
The “winners” write history and shape not only what we learn, see, and think, but the very opportunities individuals—and entire communities—can access. That has meant that for too many human beings in this country and the world, their stories involve unfair socioeconomic and health burdens placed upon them from systemic discrimination, unjust systems and policies, and unequal resources.
Writing a better story
Yet for every act of injustice, there have been strong voices calling for change, to write better stories where every child, no matter what ZIP code they’re born into or the color of their skin or the beautiful diversity their families exist in, will have an equal opportunity to thrive.
Black Lives Matter protests continue to demand that stories be heard and understood in the context of history and complex intersections of social issues…but more importantly, that solutions are possible when we work together. And glimpses of a better future can already be seen: just this week, in time for Pride Month, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a tremendously important decision protecting our LGBTQ+ friends from discrimination at work. And yesterday SCOTUS ruled for the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program to protect the dreams of hundreds of thousands of young people who are contributing to their communities. Diversity in all its forms makes us stronger, and we’re inspired to see the passion America is showing in embracing more inclusion.
Let’s continue to lift up and support narrative and cultural changes in the fight for racial equality and all social justice issues.
There are many resources out there, and we hope you’ve been educating yourself and others constructively and sharing informed ideas for ways we can improve our society.
Here are some of #TeamMoonsail’s resources and inspiration:
- Why George Floyd’s death is a tipping point and how America can move forward
- Why Minneapolis was the Breaking Point
- Black Death is the White Noise of America
- “It Doesn’t Matter” – a poem capturing the heartbreak of being Black in America
- Verify My Humanity – a campaign that aims to put the ownership of the narrative back into the hands of Black men and women
- Why it’s so important Juneteenth become a national holiday
- Growing up with Juneteenth
- This is how we Juneteenth
- Companies move to make Juneteenth a holiday
- 13TH – a documentary about the intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the US, available on Netflix
- What Matters – a multimedia webseries designed to elevate the discourse surrounding the news, hosted by the founders of Black Lives Matter
- The Choice – a brief, emotional video calling for allies to act for racial equality
- Take Action
- Ally resources for supporters of Black Lives Matter – covers reading and viewing recommendations, a curated list of organizations you can donate to, speaking out, civic engagement, and more
- 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice – practical steps we can all take at the personal, local, state, and national levels to improve our communities
- Support Black-owned Michigan businesses
- Progress we’re already seeing