By now, the chorus of support for Juneteenth–and thus the movement for racial equality–will have grown exponentially. So we won’t be the first small business to announce that tomorrow, Friday, June 19th, Juneteenth, will forever forward be a paid company holiday.
This is not an announcement to suggest how great we are for acknowledging the day. Rather, it’s a public stake in the ground that we will hold ourselves accountable in taking action towards achieving racial equality in our country.
As a business owner, for years I paid lip service to the idea of diversity and equality. Yes, I believed it in theory. I felt that hiring Black team members was “the right thing to do.” I drew from and immersed myself in Black culture. And like most of the country, I looked on in disgust while my fellow Americans had their lives held back simply due to the color of their skin. But I did nothing about it.
It took the events of the past few weeks for me to pay adequate attention to the plight of Black Americans–and even then, the idea of acknowledging Juneteenth was spurred not by me, but by our senior account and project manager, who correctly realized that this should be–should have always been–something we took seriously.
And so we will.
Starting tomorrow and going forward, Juneteenth will be a paid company holiday at BCS Interactive; a day upon which we’ll reflect, educate ourselves on systemic racism, and take action towards advancing equality. Initially, this will take the form of reading more about the experiences of Black Americans, actively purchasing from and doing business with Black-owned firms, and working to hire Black and Brown candidates in our own business. My hope is that this will grow into much more, and something that isn’t celebrated just on one day, but carried through the entire spectrum of our lives.
At the end of the day, we are all American, and we are all human. We cannot have a noble and productive nation, nor a vibrant and peaceful world unless we have respect for one another. Acknowledging Juneteenth, and contributing to the idea of freedom and equality that it signifies, is a first step.
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