We celebrate Independence Day on July 4th, to recognize the colonies’ separation from Great Britain in 1776. As Americans, we should be grateful for the level of freedom we have, compared to other countries around the world. We should also recognize our history—all of it, so that we can improve as individuals and as a nation. This includes the enslavement of African Americans, who lived under unconscionable conditions. If we celebrate Juneteenth with wellness in mind, we can make life better for everyone around us.
The History of Juneteenth
Slavery in the United States continued until June 19, 1865, when Texas finally enforced emancipation. Then, on December 6, 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified and chattel slavery was abolished nationwide. This resulted in celebrations of emancipation on various dates, known as Jubilee. On June 19, 1866, the first Juneteenth was celebrated in Texas, and it is now a federal holiday.
Today, we celebrate Juneteenth as a reminder of what had happened. We also celebrate it as inspiration for an even better future, not just for Black Americans, but for everyone who participates in our great story. Of course, this historic reminder can also create anxiety among Black people, particularly at a time when the criminal justice system is far from perfect. This Juneteenth, check in on your friends. If one of them is experiencing anxiety, then lend an ear and help them through it. And, don’t forget to exercise a little self-care, too.
Juneteenth Self-Care Routine
If you feel like you might experience some anxiety today, then it’s important to practice a self-care ritual. You should practice self-care every day, in fact. But for starters, try some of these mood-boosting activities that matter today:
- Buy from a Black-Owned Business. Remind others that they are included in your story.
- Amplify Black voices on social media. You don’t have to do it every day, but today matters.
- Read up on some Black History, or watch a documentary. Even better, visit a Black culture site, or a museum with an African American history exhibit.
- Practice yoga for a few minutes today to clear your mind and ease your tension.
- Summer officially starts tomorrow. Get out of the house, get a breath of fresh air and treat yourself to a healthy and delicious meal. You deserve it!
Remember the Past, Understand the Present, Look to the Future
We must never forget our history, in order to prevent slavery and other crimes against humanity from happening again in our country. We should also recognize that while we have made an enormous amount of progress since the days of slavery, the journey is not complete. People are still alive today who lived through the Jim Crow era that finally ended in 1965. And, there will always be friction between different groups of people over superficial differences.
When it comes to wellness, let’s celebrate our differences. We all look different, and have different life experiences. But, we’re all human beings and self-acceptance begins with the acceptance of others and their unique qualities. This Juneteenth, let’s commit to being kind to one another, and kind to ourselves.