Why Juneteenth Matters in Oakland County – The Oakland Press

Throughout Oakland County, many communities, churches, businesses, and other organizations observe Juneteenth. On June 19, 1865, the last American slaves, in Galveston, Texas, learned of the Emancipation Proclamation and their freedom.

Their annual anniversary celebration has spread across the United States, becoming a federal holiday last year and a state and county holiday this year. Departmental offices will be closed on Monday, June 20.

Robin Carter-Cooper, Oakland County’s chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer, told The Oakland Press Juneteenth is a day everyone can observe and celebrate.

“Juneteenth not only honors emancipation but also the historical experience of black people,” she said.

It’s a time to reflect on our nation’s history, she said, in part looking at “all its beauty and ugliness.” Otherwise, we are not telling a full story.

The historic pain and suffering of Black Americans has a continuing legacy in the lives and institutions of today, she said.

People who lead organizations can “begin to think about how justice works in their organizations and look for equitable solutions,” she told The Oakland Press. “Each system has disparate results for blacks and browns – look at your data. How does your system perpetuate or disrupt (inequity)? »

She said the data clearly shows disparities across the board, from health care, employment, education, criminal justice and banking, among other categories.

“When you think of 100 years of generations, a wealth of opportunity and success, juxtaposed with generations of servitude, poverty and the systems entrenched against them, you know there will be disparate results,” Carter said. -Cooper.

Some people might call it a broken system, she says, but “it’s a system that works. It does exactly what it was created to do… It’s our job to challenge our systems and make sure they listen to the results we want, which is fairness.

Equal access to services is a way to improve outcomes, she said.

Looking for ways to support fairness has less to do with imposing guilt on anyone, she said, than with recognition.

“When we talk about Juneteenth and our nation’s history, we don’t have time to shame, blame and guilt others,” she said. “We have to see what we can do to move forward. We are bound by the same history, whether we participated in it or not. Our history is shared.

Carter-Cooper said there are ways to make changes both big and small.

“There are so many areas that impact where we are and where we are going,” she said.
“In 2022, one step that every person can take is to know the history of your country and the impact of the systems today. We haven’t made those connections. Nobody wants to talk about how the history influenced where we are today.

Another step is learning the long-term, generational effect slavery has had on black people, she said, which includes the trauma of rape and other brutality.

“There was no therapy, no support for all of those things and it’s not separate from the residual impact of slavery,” she said. In terms of 2022, this means gaps in education and employment, an increase in depression and mental illnesses that could be corrected.

His suggestions for people and organizations include:

Learn about local black businesses and support them.

Plan events in predominantly white communities by partnering with black residents and groups, especially when planning June 19th celebrations. “Stop making decisions for the black community,” she said. “They have a voice and a whole story.”

Avoid exploiting events such as Juneteenth or Black History Month for marketing or branding purposes. “There are so many products on the market aimed at black hair and skin, but these companies don’t have black owners. When you’re planning, marketing and developing, one thing you can do is bring in black people. in your organization. It’s not about “helping” them. It’s a victory for innovation, creativity and thinking.

The most important act, she says, is to have civil conversations, even if they are uncomfortable.

“I think people should know that it’s okay to be scared, to feel uncomfortable and uncomfortable, but we can’t get results if we don’t feel bad about it. comfortable,” she said. “Group around people you trust, who can push you.”

The changes should continue to evolve, she said. “It won’t be easy but it will be worth it.”

Comments are closed.