Tarrika, account executive in our Patient Support Systems business, shares why celebrating Juneteenth is intentional for her.
Juneteenth is important to me as a day symbolizing aspirational freedom. Historically, it's been a time when my close friends and I discuss the irony of July 4th Independence Day, and the reality that no one is free until everyone is free.
This year my friends and I will spend Juneteenth the way people have celebrated Independence Day for years. We will cook out and enjoy great company. The national holiday recognition is important, but the larger call is toward an end to the systemic and structural racism and injustices that are embedded in many long-standing institutions.
Juneteenth is a reminder that the ongoing process toward equality and equity is a climb, with a summit that may not be reached in my lifetime. Despite the work being continuous, there's still reason to carve out moments to exercise purposeful joy. Embracing joy – despite the reality of ongoing racism – is its own act of rebellion. People deserve time and space to exist in safe spaces where they are valued as human beings and share gratitude.
For me, it's important to acknowledge that Juneteenth came a full two years after President Lincoln declared enslaved people to be free "on paper" through the Emancipation Proclamation. The irony of Americans remaining enslaved after being declared free two years earlier epitomizes the conflicting experiences of freedom many Americans still experience today. Celebrating Juneteenth is about being intentional. For me, it is an intentional exercise to acknowledge progress and honor the ancestors and all the work of their hands to make this country great. Thinking of the contributions they made, and the ongoing contributions of their descendants, gives me hope about the possibilities of a future filled with progress.