Something to sell you on June 19


Just when I was feeling a smidgen hopeful, and a wee smug, that we’d escape an onslaught of new commercials I opened my eyes. And social media.

Last year Juneteenth was made an “official” holiday, gaining federal recognition when President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act.

Prior to that summertime act June 19 had been celebrated in piecemeal fashion, with only some states and communities recognizing the day when the final population of enslaved people were set free in Texas on June 19, 1865—two years after the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed. Biden’s signature, however, changed that and June 19 was introduced to the nation.

And retailers.

Over time we’ve grown accustomed to merchants attaching commerce to national days of distinction. Consider all the Memorial Day sales that offered deals on comfortable patio furniture and the bargains we’ll find online shopping for Independence Day themed bikinis, shorts, picnicware and booze.

In this country if there is an event to be commemorated there is a dollar to be made.

As joyous and celebratory an occasion June 19 is, it still marks an ugly and defining moment in this country’s history. It was finally the end of government sanctioned human trafficking. For hundreds of years Black people in this country were treated as less than human, enslaved and treated as beasts of burden. It’s hard to imagine merchants wanting to attach themselves to such an ugly and defining moment in this country.
Celebrate the end of atrocities to humanity by saving 30% on Juneteenth themed picnic plates and flip flops!

I suppose that exploitation, to a degree, is American as apple pie and fabulous savings. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when I saw retailers had been hawking Juneteenth ice cream, candles and party decorations.

It would be easier to swallow if in exchange for the amount of crass capitalization we encounter we, as a country, stopped disenfranchising Black voters, disproportionately prosecuting and incarcerating Black men, women and children and tolerating the systemic racism that has carried on all these days after June 19, 1865.

Something to sell you on June 19