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Why Do Black Americans Celebrate Other Holidays More Than Juneteenth and Black History Month?


Black Americans have a complex relationship with many holidays celebrated in the United States. While they participate in patriotic holidays like the 4th of July and commemorate civil rights milestones like Martin Luther King Jr. Day, they tend to celebrate their own cultural holidays like Juneteenth and Black History Month at lower rates compared to other racial groups.

Embracing American Traditions

Despite the history of slavery and oppression, many Black Americans feel a strong sense of American identity and embrace patriotic holidays. Over 60% of Black Americans celebrate the 4th of July, on par with non-Black Americans. They are also more likely to celebrate Memorial Day, Presidents’ Day, and Veterans Day compared to other racial groups.

This may be because these holidays celebrate individuals and service rather than the nation itself, which has a more complicated legacy for Black Americans. As one Reddit user noted, “I want to be an American, just like all the other Americans. I’m an American first and I want to be seen as an American first. Not as black first. An American who happens to be black.”

Challenges with Black-Centric Holidays

In contrast, holidays like Juneteenth and Black History Month, which are specifically focused on the Black American experience, have lower participation rates. Only 39% of Black Americans celebrate Juneteenth, compared to just 7% of non-Black Americans.

Some reasons cited include a lack of cultural relevance, as one Reddit user stated: “Kwanzaa isn’t your culture, you view your self as North American.” There are also concerns that making these holidays federal would primarily benefit White workers who already get time off, while many Black minimum wage workers would not.

The Path Forward

As the US continues to grapple with racial inequities, embracing and celebrating Black American culture and history will be crucial. Brands and institutions should find ways to authentically honor Juneteenth, Black History Month, and other Black-centric occasions. At the same time, Black Americans may need to lead the charge in preserving and elevating their own cultural traditions. As one commenter noted, “The act of preserving your culture and celebrating it begins with you… your community… Your people…”

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