Happy Juneteenth! In its second year as a federally declared holiday, not every state in the U.S. recognizes it as a permanent day off.
Texas, where I grew up, was the first state to make it a paid holiday in 1980. However, California, where I live, makes it an optional personal day and for state employees, it counts as a “floating holiday.”
State-sanctioned or not, I believe in taking a moment today to reflect upon this historic day, commemorating the TRUE end of slavery in the United States.
It’s a day we get to reflect upon our own freedoms.
This resonated for me, when I read what a professor at Texas A&M who teaches African American History said:
“If some of us aren't free, then none of us are actually free. The more we celebrate the freedom of other groups, people of all demographics are going to benefit from that, so Juneteenth is something that uplifts us all. It reminds us all that we don't have to go back to that time period where Black American citizens were treated as slaves.”
It’s also important to note that there is still modern day slavery today.
Sex trafficking, especially among Asian women, is prevalent, and we should all take a hard look at where our money goes.
One place to look at is companies who use prisoners as laborers.
Sure, they may technically say they’re paying minimum wage, but after a lot of fees and expenses (room and board, soap, detergent, etc.) are deducted, most of these prisoners are making practically nothing, so essentially it’s another form of slavery.
It’s a way for these companies to turn more profit, on the backs of incarcerated men and women who may not have a choice.
Here are a few of these companies:
Of course, as a financial coach, my focus goes to how little money the prisoners actually make.
The research found that the average minimum hourly wage paid to workers is around 13 cents, and the average maximum hourly wage is 52 cents.
Besides companies, state-run prisons are also making a lot of money, with California leading, netting over $249 MILLION in sales from state correctional industries programs!
The report makes a list of recommendations, and the first one is to:
"Ensure that all work in prisons is fully voluntary by eliminating any laws and policies that require forced labor or impose adverse consequences on incarcerated workers who are unable or unwilling to work."
It makes sense right? If work in prisons isn't fully voluntary, then that IS slavery, which of course, as we all should know, was abolished by the Emancipation Proclamation and later the 13th Amendment.
Here's to all of our freedoms.
With Love & Gratitude