Beyond being a newly adopted federal holiday, Juneteenth is an opportunity to revere the Black American experience. It’s a time to celebrate freedom and delight in the richness of Black culture while honoring the resistance and resilience of our ancestors. It’s an opportunity for us to restore, to be joyful and proud.
Juneteenth is also a reminder that we are the living, breathing dreams of our ancestors. Many of us have inherited wisdom that the relief and jubilation of their freedom was for us too. We may even feel that we owe both our ancestors and our future generations an investment in ourselves. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that so many of us feel called to focus on our dreams and aspirations around Juneteenth. From creative projects to business grand openings, Black people naturally connect our ancestral struggle for freedom to the opportunities for self-determination that we have today.
This is directly related to why I made it my job to support entrepreneurs and businesses in Detroit’s neighborhoods. I do this work because I know what entrepreneurship and business ownership means to and for Black people. I know that our individual and collective psyche is enhanced with each success story — that the joy of making progress towards our dreams is medicine.
Of course, entrepreneurship is also a practical opportunity to take ownership of our finances; whether by adding extra income as a sole-proprietor, creating full-time jobs for ourselves and others, or by scaling up and building equity. Each of these levels of economic opportunity matters and has the power to transform outcomes across many other aspects of our lives. We can positively affect our education opportunities, living conditions, physical and mental health, as well as the landscapes of our neighborhoods and communities. Our culture is preserved and esteemed when the businesses in our neighborhoods are for and by us. Our humanity is recognized and we have safe spaces to exist. Our people are cared for by the opportunities we create to support and build up one another. The ripple effects are beautiful and endless.
With all of these possibilities in mind I have two wishes this Juneteenth. I wish for all people, especially those with power and resources, to step up their support of Black entrepreneurs and businesses. I invite you to counter generations of free labor, wealth extraction, and exclusion from economic opportunity with support for the future we are building. Regardless of your capacity, from buying more Black-owned products to making significant grants or investments, your support matters.
Finally, and most of all, I wish for Black entrepreneurs to continue working towards their dreams. I wish you the will and resources to keep going. Regardless of where you are at on the journey. Regardless of whether it is just you or a whole team of employees. You matter and we need you, and ProsperUs is here to support you.
Chanell Scott Contreras