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Marking Juneteenth at RAPP won’t change the world, but it will keep anti-racism on the agenda

June 17, 2021

England manager Gareth Southgate wrote an eloquent address to the nation ahead of the team’s successful start to the Euro 2020 tournament, describing the duty of his players to raise awareness of injustice, and supporting their reasons for continuing to take the knee at the start of their matches.

Of course, taking the knee isn’t going to solve the problem of racism on its own, but by continuing to make that stand, the players are communicating that their support for the cause is more than just a one-off black square posted on social media; it’s constantly front of mind.

It’s the same reason that, at RAPP, we are all taking a day out on June 19 – the anniversary of the final emancipation of slaves in the US – to focus on anti-racism.

We did the same last year on the day known as “Juneteenth” – and it would feel wrong now to let the day pass without recognition. Observing Juneteenth is about creating time and space for us to be intentional in our own anti-racism journey, and to keep the issue firmly on our agenda.

Juneteenth is a historic moment worth observing, given the inextricable link between the UK and US when it comes to issues of racism. We can’t forget that the US was once a British colony, and that many of the laws that uphold and reinforce racism, homophobia and sexism were vicariously or otherwise imported from Britain. The legacy of those policies and mode of operating are relics of our imperial history that continue to live on as an ingrained part of our culture and collective subconscious.

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