Juneteenth now an official federal holiday in the US, but what exactly does the holiday signify and how should we be celebrating it in our communities? Juneteenth specifically celebrates June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger announced the end of slavery in Galveston, Texas as a response to President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.
For Black Americans who did not have freedom on July 4, 1776, Juneteenth is a celebration of true freedom and an acknowledgement of the discrimination and oppression Black Americans continued to face despite the end of slavery. Whether Juneteenth has been a lifelong holiday in your home or you’re new to celebrating it, here are six ways to celebrate and honor Juneteenth this year.
Learn the full history of Juneteenth
Although June 19, 1869 marked the end of slavery in Texas, the reality was far more complex. Learning the full history of slavery in America and how it still impacts society today will help you better understand the holiday and contribute towards your own antiracist education. Sharing this information with children and loved ones is a great way to evaluate the true meaning of freedom for all before we celebrate the Fourth of July. Some good resources to start with are the book Juneteenth by Ralph Ellison and this article from The New York Times.
Celebrate with loved ones
There’s no wrong way to celebrate, but common celebrations include hosting barbecues, attending a parade if there’s one in your area, or just enjoying dinner with your family. Many people serve corn bread, collard greens, and cabbage as they represent prosperity in Black history.
Support Black-owned businesses
We still have a long way to go to create a truly equitable society, but supporting Black-owned businesses in our own communities is a great way to contribute to that goal. Seek out Black-owned shops, restaurants, and salons to visit and share them with your friends.
Spread the word
Educating yourself is a great first step, but sharing what you learn with others is even better. Support racial justice education in schools and ask your company why they offer the Fourth of July as a paid holiday, but not Juneteenth. This can be as simple as initiating a discussion of the importance of Juneteenth at the dinner table.
Donate to racial justice-focused organizations
Donate to organizations that support racial justice in your own community or opt for larger national organizations like The American Civil Liberties Union, the Audre Lorde Project, the Bail Project, and the Black Journalists Therapy Relief Fund.
Attend Juneteenth events
Check and see if there are any Juneteenth events happening in your community or nearby cities. Juneteenth New York is hosting a three-day, online and in-person Juneteenth summit and The Smithsonian Museum of African American Culture and History in Washington, D.C., is holding presentations on the history and significance of Juneteenth. Most major cities like Los Angeles, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Austin hold parades to commemorate the holiday.
Lightning is an incredible display of the power of nature, but a new study shows this natural phenomenon has more benefits for our world than previously thought. Researchers from Penn State University analyzed atmospheric measurements from a NASA jet and found that lightning appears to be an important source of air-cleaning chemicals.
When measuring oxidants in storm clouds over Colorado, Oklahoma, and Texas, researchers identified that these clouds contained the hydroxyl radical, OH, and the hydroperoxyl radical, HO2. Both of these are powerful air-purifying oxidants, and the combined concentration of these radicals produced by lightning is up to thousands of parts per trillion in storm clouds, the highest concentration of OH ever observed.
Both of these oxidants work to clean the air by reacting with contaminants like methane to rain out of Earth’s atmosphere. This is part of the reason why the air feels so clear after a large storm.
At any given time, an estimated 1,800 lightning storms are taking place around the world, and the researchers note that this new data means that lightning is responsible for 2 percent to 16 percent of atmospheric OH.
Source study: AAAS – Extreme oxidant amounts produced by lightning in storm clouds
Canada is coming to grips with the horrific discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at former residential schools that contain the remains of children—some as young as three years old.
The exposure of these mass graves puts a spotlight on the country’s terrible colonial past and has inspired the Canadian government to atone for its wrongdoings against Indigenous peoples.
Minister of Indigenous services Marc Miller recently declared, “For far too long, Canada’s colonial legacy has disrupted Indigenous peoples’ Indigenous naming practices and family connections from being recognized.”
In the 1800s, more than 150,000 Indigenous children were extracted from their homes and forced into residential schools that were run by religious institutions and the federal government. These schools were in place to push Indigenous culture out through forced assimilation. Children were made to wear uniforms, speak English, and adopt Christian names. If they failed to do so, the children were violently punished.
To finally address this violation of Indigenous identity, Canada announced a new policy that allows Indigenous people who were forced to adopt European Christian names to officially reclaim their original names.
Canada’s citizenship minister, Marco Mendicino, explains that “the traditional names given to Indigenous children carry deep cultural meaning. Yet for many First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people, colonialism has robbed them of these sacred names.”
In 2015, Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission announced 94 “calls to action” that would help rectify the relationship between Indigenous peoples and Canadians, but sadly most of these calls to action have been ignored. According to Mendicino, “Efforts to use traditional names have been met with everything from polite rejection to racism.”
Six years later, the government’s decision to allow name changes to official documents falls in line with the 17th call to action.
Having a family garden is a wonderful tool to teach kids the importance of eating sustainably as well as how to be responsible for another living being—but sometimes kids and plants don’t mix well.
We at The Optimist Daily have previously written about how to make your garden pet-friendly. Now, we have some tips on how to make your garden child-friendly so that both kids and plants can flourish.
Space for active play
No matter the size of your garden, it’s important that there is a space for active play. This doesn’t have to look like an open lawn. Children can thrive in all different types of outdoor play areas.
For those with bigger gardens, trade-in your uniformly cut lawn for a natural obstacle course or go the extra mile by constructing a sustainable wood jungle gym. For smaller gardens, a single mature tree that’s good for climbing or hanging a swing will do the trick, or you can have your kids help mark out a path around the garden for running or strolling.
Zones for messy play
If you have children, then you probably know that an overly manicured garden is not the most welcoming environment for energetic kids. Make sure not to place too much value on maintaining a perfect aesthetic. Instead, there should be designated areas where your children can feel free to run a little wild and make a mess.
A great way to do this is by installing a ring fence around this space so your kids can identify the area where they are allowed to make mud pies, gather leaves to jump in, or splash around in puddles.
Areas to nurture the imagination
A garden can be an amazing source of creative inspiration for your kids. Help them imagine a fantastical space by turning a raised bed into a sleeping giant or encourage them to build tiny houses for the mystical fairies that might visit the flowers they watched or helped you grow.
Spaces for learning
Cultivating your own garden is a fantastic learning opportunity for your children. Get them involved in sowing seeds, and perhaps give them their own space so that they can take control over their own plants once you feel that they’re ready. This can help them see how much impact they can have over the world around them.
Growing food and other resources in your garden can also help your child discover the relationship between their environment and what they eat, and what role they can play in that process. If you do it right, then your kids will be having so much fun they won’t even realize they’re learning.
Space for quiet time
Spending time with your kids in the garden, and actively teaching them about the significance of nature is invaluable. However, ensuring that your children have the chance to commune with and learn from nature quietly and on their own is also important.
You can facilitate this by finding a quiet corner of your garden to turn into a retreat that your kids know they can use when they feel like they just want to get away from it all. You can build a den together, or just create a dense planting scheme that will allow for some privacy and encourage mindfulness.
Wonderful wildlife to discover
Ultimately, the more wildlife you can attract to your garden through cultivating plants that support native species, the more fun your kids will have as they discover these critters.
Being exposed to the simple wonder of nature and how ecosystems work together will not just fill your kids with awe, but will also help them understand that the world is a shared space and that all creatures deserve to be cared for and respected.
More and more car brands are shifting production to focus on electric vehicle technology. This move is critical for increasing available EV options, making them more affordable, and increasing public confidence in these vehicle types. Most recently, General Motors (GM) announced a 75 percent increase in EV development and self-driving technology.
The $35 billion investment is a significant increase from the company’s initial 2020 commitments. The money will go towards adding capacity at its car assembly factories and the construction of two new battery plants.
GM CEO Mary Barra said in a statement, “We are investing aggressively in a comprehensive and highly-integrated plan to make sure that GM leads in all aspects of the transformation to a more sustainable future.”
GM plans to sell more than one million EVs globally by 2025 and is expected to lobby for higher EV tax credits for consumers and producers.