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GREENWOOD Dist. — As the nation prepares for another federally recognized Juneteenth, Black Americans appear divided on whether they want companies to commemorate the holiday, which honors the remaining enslaved Africans in Texas who weren’t notified of their emancipation until Union soldiers told them in person after the Civil War ended.
Only 41% of Black Americans surveyed want all brands and companies to celebrate Juneteenth, according to the Collage Group, a research firm.
Roughly 60% of Black Americans celebrate Juneteenth, while only 20% of Americans in general do, though the participation rates have increased after President Biden signed the federal holiday into law in 2021.
Meanwhile, the share of Black Americans who want companies and brands to celebrate Juneteenth is higher than any other ethnic group. Of those familiar with the holiday, 42% of White Americans, 35% of Asian Americans, 25% of Hispanic Americans and 24% of Black Americans don’t care whether companies and brands honor the holiday.
“We conducted this study on Juneteenth as part of our holidays and occasions research because it is an important day for the Black segment,” Sudipti Kumar, Director of Multicultural Insights, told The Black Wall Street Times. “We wanted to help brands understand overall celebration rates of Juneteenth as well as what matters to the Black segment when they celebrate and what they want brands to do in their support of Juneteenth.”
Some companies criticized for Juneteenth reactions
Black Americans first celebrated Juneteenth on June 19, 1866, a year after Black folks in Texas finally learned about the Emancipation Proclamation. Since then, Houston, and more recently Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District, have become the top destinations for commemorating the occassion.
Some have criticized the U.S. for giving Black Americans a federal holiday while continuing to deny them reparations. Meanwhile, companies looking to get in on the action have repeatedly dropped the ball their attempts to appeal to Black consumers.
A celebration in Little Rock, Arkansas, last year drew outrage after a community organized a Juneteenth panel with all-White panelists. A business in Maine last year drew even more outrage when the insurance company posted a sign on the door that read, “It’s whatever. We’re closed. Enjoy your fried chicken and collared greens.”
Still, for many Black Americans, seeing the red, black and green displayed on shelves across the nation is a welcoming sign.
To celebrate or not to celebrate?
“Brands have a responsibility to acknowledge the holidays that are important to Americans, such as Juneteenth, but to do so in a way that is based on understanding of the segment and what they value in this holiday,” Kumar said.
The Collage Group analyst believes the data shows that most Black Americans want companies to recognize Juneteenth in some form.
“While there are relatively few Black Americans who don’t want brands to celebrate Juneteenth, the segment is keenly aware of marketing or advertising that feels “performative” in nature,” Kumar said. “Celebrating Juneteenth should be part of a longer-term commitment by brands to acknowledge and celebrate important holidays for Black Americans as well as better serve the segment in a variety of ways ranging from better representation of Black Americans to product offerings that fit the segment’s needs.”
The Collage Group Holidays and Occasions Survey was conducted in March and surveyed 3,838 people between 18 and 77 years old, including 1,253 Hispanic Americans, 1,144 White Americans ,777 Black Americans, and 635 Asian Americans.