Juneteenth Quick Macro Level Analysis

​The article I chose for this news item is from the New York Times and is entitled Biden Signs law Making Juneteenth a Federal Holiday by Annie Karin and Luke Broadwater.(https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/17/us/politics/juneteenth-holiday-biden.html?searchResultPosition=6). The article talks about the fact that on Thursday June 17th ,2021, U.S President Joseph R Biden sign into law a bill designating Juneteenth as a federal holiday. Of particular note is that 14 House of Representatives members objected to the law while in the Senate the measure passed with unanimous support. 

​Juneteenth celebrates June 19,1865 when “Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger in Galveston,Texas issued General Order No.3,which announced that in accordance with the Emancipation Proclamation, ‘all slaves are free’.”(insert reference). The President recognized Opal Lee, an 89 year for her role in supporting Juneteenth as a federal holiday. The President, while discussing the significance of the new holiday is quoted as saying “ The promise of equality is not going to be fulfilled until we become real, it becomes real in our schools and on our Main Streets and in our neighborhoods.”

​A couple of concepts that I think applies to this article is Pierre Bourdieu’s Constructivist Structuralism and Emile Durkheim’s Theory of Differentiation-Integration. I believe these two frameworks captures the zeitgeist of the moment. 

​In applying Bourdieu’s Constructivist Structuralism, it is important to understand that he essentially believes that “structures constrain action, but this constraint is not absolute”He discusses this from the context of social phenomenon. The United States is comprised of many differentiated groups and institutions that have competing interest and different levels of power and influence that create inequalities within the society. The social glue that keeps these disparate groups together in an integrated fashion is culture. One manifestation of American culture is the celebration of holidays. Given that the most import cultural holidays celebrated in the United States derives from the normative, hegemonic ideals of White Male European influence . Part of changing the lived outcomes of marginalized people, aside from policy and legislation , involves changing societal messaging and narratives. Working within established institutions(institutions that constrains actions, though not absolutely) such as the United States Congress, and the Office of the President has allowed the Juneteenth celebration to become a federal holiday. This acknowledgment goes a small way into changing the narrative of the U.S( a White focus accounting of history) and thus promotes a level of change in the very institutions that systematically perpetuates inequality. 

Success at the previous discussed mechanism leads to an application of Durkheim’s Theory of Differentiation-Integration. Durkheim postulates about social pathologies that would “disappear as the new bases of integration began to evolve.” As suggested before, those pathologies are the structural mediated social injustices and resulting social ills. Establishing a Juneteenth Holiday could have a manifest effect of unifying the cultural commonality of different groups in the U.S. This theoretically could change the fight for social justice into a moral argument shared among the populist that just might move the moral arc of justice towards all Americans regardless of race.


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