Care and Feeding

My White Daughters Have a Big Plan for Juneteenth

My husband thinks it’s a bad idea.

Two children stand facing an illustration of a raised fist with a broken chain that morphs into birds.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by LUNAMARINA/iStock/Getty Images Plus and kanyakits/iStock/Getty Images Plus. 

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Dear Care and Feeding,

I’m a mom to white 9-year-old twins, and they want to organize a Juneteenth celebration in our diverse neighborhood. My husband is concerned that it’s not a good look for two white kids to take the lead on this, especially since there will be a larger celebration organized by the city. I personally love that our girls want to take the initiative to celebrate this special day. What are your thoughts?

—Juneteenth Party

Dear Juneteenth,

I absolutely understand your husband’s concerns about this. It would probably raise a few eyebrows in the community if two white girls tried to upstage a Juneteenth event that is already planned by the city. However, that doesn’t mean they should do nothing.

If I were you, I’d contact the organizers of the event and ask them for ways that your daughters can get involved. Maybe they can be used to help young kids to understand the importance of this holiday by leading a “kids only” breakout session. Perhaps they could be asked to speak about how white people (not just kids) should learn about Juneteenth in schools and beyond. The possibilities are endless.

This also serves as a good opportunity to teach your kids about not centering themselves in the fight for racial equity—because creating a celebration of their own would do just that. The analogy I like to use is white people shouldn’t try to be the leading actors, they should opt for the supporting roles instead. In other words, your kids (or any white person, for that matter) shouldn’t put themselves at the forefront of any event involving Black people, unless it involves mobilizing other white people to do more. Showing up to the citywide event to ask, “How can I help?” would be the best way for them to be a part of it.

That said, the main thing is to not dim their lights when it comes to celebrating Juneteenth, because this is a holiday that people of all races, ages, and ethnicities should recognize and enjoy.

—Doyin

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