We Have to Protect Juneteenth From Cultural Appropriation Pimps
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Nothing is sacred for Black people in America. Not our music, our bodies, food or hairstyles. And now here come people trying to whitewash our holiday, Juneteenth.

Twitter wasted no time circulating a flier for the Juneteenth Soul Food Festival and Market with the pictures of featured hosts, Rex Nelson, Heather Baker and David Bazzel boldly printed on it.  And by the way, Rex, Heather and David are all white and it’s a good chance none of their ancestors were freed from enslavement on June 19,1866. 

Listed as one of the recipients of the proceeds from the event, The Urban League of Arkansas quickly distanced themselves from the controversy. 

In a statement on their Facebook page, the organization’s CEO said, “Please read – the Urban League of the State of Arkansas is and was not involved in any aspect of this program. We are concerned of the appearance of participation without our approval. It’s unfortunate that some failed to recognize the optics and the absolute need to engage prior to this being developed.” 

And to make matters worse, the event was organized by a Black man, former football player for the Razorbacks and Arkansas treasure, Muskie Harris. Why would he think that was a good idea? That move probably just got his Black Card revoked.

Protect Juneteenth at all costs

Immediately, many were wondering why Black people weren’t the faces of this event.

In an interview, one of the hosts, Rex Nelson, said, “We’re also fortunate in Arkansas to have respected black leaders as mayors of some of our largest cities such as Little Rock, Fort Smith and Pine Bluff. And let’s not forget about the historians who have worked hard the past couple of decades to make Arkansans aware of this state’s sad history of violence against blacks.”

In this fortune of having an abundance of respected Black leaders in Little Rock, why didn’t Mr. Harris or Mr. Nelson invite any of them to host?

Black fam, we’re not even a year into Juneteenth being officially recognized as a national holiday and already have to reclaim our time.  And even though the flier was leaked and the event has been canceled after public outrage, this matter absolutely has to be called to forum by the Black Delegation because. We can be sure that there will be future offenses from habitual, cultural line steppers and appropriation pimps–as we’ve unfortunately seen with Cinco de Mayo.

As someone who holds resentment in having our ancestors brutalized and our history erased with half-assed acknowledgement from our country that these things even happened, I’m extremely protective over this holiday and its symbolism of freedom and justice for Black people.

And I hope the next time someone tries to host an event around our emancipation represented by White people, it’s met with a full force of opposition and resistance from brothers, sisters and co-conspirators who want to protect Juneteenth and our history like I do.

Tanesha Peeples is driven by one question in her work--"If not me then who?" As a strategist and injustice interrupter, Tanesha merges the worlds of communications and grassroots activism to push for radical...