Back in June, I had the pleasure of speaking with Jacque Julien, the Executive Director for Communities of Color Coalition (C3). C3 is a grass roots organization comprised of BIPOC leadership, that advocates for social justice in healthcare and education and works to dismantle systemic racism. While their focus has been doing this work in Snohomish County, they’ve been expanding their reach, working throughout the region. C3 helped plan a week of activities to commemorate Juneteenth. I planned to highlight them in our June edition of the Connector. However, as we spoke, it became clear to me that if we are going to move forward with intention and not be performative, recognition of Juneteenth needed to continue beyond June 19. Sure, a day off and social media posts on Juneteenth are nice, but what happens on June 20 or October 19 for that matter?
In May of 2021, Governor Jay Inslee declared Juneteenth a state holiday in Washington State. About a month later, President Joe Biden signed a bill into law, making Juneteenth a federal holiday. Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, commemorates the day in 1865–nearly two years after The Emancipation Proclamation–when those who were still enslaved in Galveston, Texas learned that they were free. With Jacque being the executive director of an organization that advocates for social justice and works to dismantle systemic racism, I wanted to get her perspective on Juneteenth becoming a state and national holiday. She says she is concerned with the recognition being performative. “White supremacy culture always looks to find ways to commodify things and to benefit in some capacity, without doing work. I find that it’s a distraction. Not that it’s not needed and hasn’t been needed, please don’t misinterpret that. I’m saying that, we’ve been celebrating Juneteenth. But declaring it a national holiday, a state holiday, is that going to stop the killing of Black bodies? Is that going to stop the gentrification of our cities and communities? Incarcerating us? What does it really mean?”
Jacque says that there are ways to move beyond the performative by leaning in, learning, unlearning, and taking action. “If you’re not a person of color, center the needs of BIPOC communities, center the needs of Black folks, speak up, take more action, call out things that are performative, intentionally invest in Black community. Outside of it being a national holiday, outside of celebration, think about how to move and shift to recognition in everyday lives.” More specifically, she suggests:
- Learning the history and sharing it with others
- Demand that your organization has antiracist policies and practices in place
- Look for ways on how you can support BIPOC in the workplace, like sharing your paid time off
- Hear Black community in your decision making
- Support local Black activists, leaders, and organizations that are doing the work for Black liberation
- Be intentional about where you spend money as a form of reparations
- Move out of the way
She also has a message for BIPOC communities. As far having the day off, Jacque says, “I don’t know that we ever have the day off – there are things we just don’t just get to take off. It’s not something I can set aside and that’s something that needs to be acknowledged.” She encourages Black and Brown folk to take some space, “Take what you need. If that’s time off, then it’s time off. If it’s self-care, then it’s self-care. If it’s being active, then organize. We have to give ourselves permission in these spaces.”
Today is October 19. Four months ago, we celebrated Juneteenth. Now we should be asking ourselves, what have we done to lean in, learn, and unlearn? What action have we taken to center BIPOC communities? Yes, let’s honor and celebrate Juneteenth, Hispanic Heritage Month, Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and all the special days on the calendar that recognize BIPOC communities. But the time is now, to move and shift this recognition into everyday lives.
C3, a Washington Nonprofits member organization, is a small team making big changes. They continue to address systemic inequities in policies and funding allocations while addressing emergent needs in Snohomish County.
In partnership with Modest Family Solutions, C3 supports weekly food distribution of fresh produce, sourced from local farmers throughout Washington State. C3 also supports People of Color (POC) Gatherings with North Sound Accountable Community of Health (North Sound ACH). POC Gatherings are held on the first Thursdays of the month on Zoom. Click here to learn more.
Be on the lookout for C3’s Leadership Academy, focused on system change and action. This is a free opportunity and open to the community.
BIPOC Link-Up – For BIPOC looking to be in community with other BIPOC, I recommend checking out the BIPOC Link-Up, hosted by Seattle Works for discussion on topics that promote positive well-being for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and to connect, build community, share resources, discuss racial equity, promote healing, and make an impact. The next link-up on Wednesday, October 20. Susan Balbas, Executive Director of Na’ah Illahee Fund will lead a discussion on Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women and People. Click here for details and registration.
Washington Nonprofits Slack Community – Washington Nonprofits has a BIPOC channel in the Washington Nonprofits Slack Community. This is a private channel for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color to connect. Click here to join.
The Center for Healing and Liberation: The center has some upcoming events that may help you move beyond performative to action.
- A heart for justice: The work of being anti-racist – A retreat for white folks with Victoria Santos and Robin DiAngelo Friday, 10/22 – Sunday 10/24th – Join this retreat, to cultivate ways to embody anti-racism.
- White Supremacy in the Global Context: Panel Discussion – Saturday, 10/30 -10am-12pm PST – Join a panel of international racial justice leaders for a deep and multifaceted look at where we are now and how we can advance healing and cultural transformation.