Shared struggles, shared celebration: Juneteenth’s relevance to Latin@s

Juneteenth is a special day that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved people, across the US. It gained even more significance in June 2021 when it was officially recognized as a federal holiday. Discover the top five essential facts about Juneteenth according to the Root to learn more about this significant holiday and how it reminds us of the struggles and liberation of slavery. 

Dual heritage

The diverse range of Black and Latin@ communities includes individuals with every skin tone. This Juneteenth, it is crucial for all of us to pause and reflect upon the history of slavery in the United States and Latin America, recognizing its ongoing impact on our lives. After all, many Latin@s also share a lineage that includes both descendants of slaves and slaveholders. 

In fact, of the 11.2 million Africans who were forced onto slave ships, only 450,000 went to the United States – everyone else who survived when to Latin America. So take your Monday off to recognize and address the lasting effects of ending slavery.

Cultural exchange

Throughout our history in the US, Latin@s and African Americans have shared a common struggle. Cesar Chavez, a prominent advocate for farmers’ rights, drew inspiration from the movement led by Martin Luther King. Similarly, at the age of 8, Silvia Mendez was denied entry to an all-white school and later played a significant role in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case. These instances demonstrate the similarity of injustice across different groups. Such powerful examples highlight the mutual motivation and influence between Latin@ leaders and the broader civil rights movement. 

Non-Black Latin@s have an opportunity to learn from the progress and impact achieved by Black individuals throughout history. We can recognize and appreciate the accomplishments of Black communities, drawing inspiration for our collective advancement.

Social justice advocacy

Systems of oppression have a profound impact on interpersonal relationships. The presence of patriarchal systems, including slavery and colonialism, has contributed to the creation and perpetuation of violence. Systemic racism, limited resources, and the accompanying trauma significantly affect our mental well-being and Juneteenth is a reminder to rally around our Black communities – Latin@ or not – organizing for a more just society.

​​Take action 

Now that you know some more about Juneteenth and why it matters to Latin@s, we hope you are ready to take action. First, let’s educate ourselves and others about the experiences and challenges faced by the Black and Afro-Latin@ communities. Next, let us engage in dialogue, attend community events, and support organizations working toward social justice. By promoting understanding, empathy, and unity, we can work towards a more inclusive and equitable society for all.

This post was written by Julissa Santizo.