Today is Juneteenth and I’m embarrassed to say, until earlier this week, I had not heard of this holiday. Maybe I had my head in the sand and just didn’t know it was happening, but I can’t remember ever hearing the term, Juneteenth. So when it came up in a conversation, I quickly googled it.
Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, and Cel-Liberation Day, is an American holiday celebrated on 19 June to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved people in the U.S. The holiday was first celebrated in Texas, where on that date in 1865, in the aftermath of the Civil War, slaves were declared free under the terms of the 1862 Emancipation Proclamation. Now that I’m aware of the term I have seen it mentioned many different places. It’s sobering to me that 155 years later, our nation is still struggling with equality.
Juneteenth came up in a webinar I attended this week called Path Towards a Cure: Racism is a Virus. One of the panelists was Michael C. Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work. He gave four recommendations for creating a path towards a cure and for being a great place to work during these troubled times. They have inspired me and I hope they will bring some inspiration to you as well.
- Start a personal conversation – have the courage to communicate with others about what’s going on. This is your chance to be real. You don’t have to “over curate” your communication, just be willing to start a conversation. What is this like for you right now? What are you feeling right now? A colleague said it best, Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
- Keep a focus on the need to continuously listen – have an open mind. Be willing to challenge your thinking and even change your mind. When you’re listening ask yourself if you have something to learn? Are you willing to question that?
- Check you motivation – why are you doing this? Why are you saying this? What is your intention? Is it for the right reason? Nice words just leave a person feeling empty inside without any action or change in behavior.
- Offer a ray of hope – hope helps us stay motivated. Listening, learning and doing can give hope to those around us. Caring enough to ask someone how they’re holding up may be a ray of hope for that person. Checking in with a friend or acknowledging someone’s situation may be a ray of hope.
I know I have a lot of listening and learning to do. I keep hearing the quote from Maya Angelou in my head. “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Now that I know better, I have a responsibility to do better. Will you join me on the path towards a cure?