Celebrating Juneteenth & Recognizing Privilege
Celebrating Juneteenth & Starting the Journey Toward Anti-Racism: Recognizing Privilege
Today is June 19–better known as Juneteenth–an annual holiday commemorating the day in 1865 when Black people in Texas were finally told about the Emancipation Proclamation, and learned that they had been freed. The day has been commemorated by African Americans for 155 years and has become more widely recognized and celebrated in recent years.
This year, following the brutal murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, among many other Black Americans, the holiday will have more recognition and energy behind it than ever before.
The Boston Club acknowledges and celebrates Juneteenth as an important holiday. To read more about the history of Juneteenth, check out this article in the New York Times.
You can also read about how you and your company can celebrate Juneteenth to practice active allyship.
If, as a white person, you’ve been acknowledging the pervasive and systemic racism present in this country but don’t know where to start on your own journey, you’ve come to the right place. Over the next 5 weeks, we will provide you with exercises, readings, videos, podcasts and more to help you learn, confront your own biases and privilege, and start on the path toward change.
Today, we are going to start with some simple exercises that help you better understand privilege and power.
EXERCISE: The Privilege Wheel is an exercise that allows you to see how your demographic characteristics directly relate to the amount of privilege you have. Take a few minutes and fill out the wheel. Then, reflect on how various elements of your own privilege have shown up in your life.
EXERCISE: The next step is meant to widen your perspective on privilege. The Privilege Walk is meant to be done in a group, but you can do it alone (and watch the next video to get a sense of what doing it in a group can look and feel like). How many aspects of privilege have you thought about? Did anything surprise you?
WATCH: This is a short video of what the previous exercise looks like when done in a group. What did you notice? Who ended up in the front and who ended up in the back? Where did you end up?
WATCH: Michael Yates, a young Black teacher, talks about how to recognize privilege and power and how that plays out throughout your life.
READ: One of the most lauded and still-referenced articles about privilege, and in particular white privilege, was published by Wellesley Professor Peggy McIntosh in Peace & Freedom magazine in 1989. It’s called White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.
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