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Late Night writer Amber Ruffin answered frequently asked questions about Juneteenth during Thursday’s episode of the NBC show.
Juneteenth is a holiday that celebrates the end of slavery in the United States.
The writer explained that people anonymously sent her questions that they are too embarrassed to ask about the holiday.
“Juneteenth is the anniversary of June 19, 1865. That’s the day the last American slaves were freed, otherwise known as the last good day in Black history. No, I’m just kidding a little bit,” she said. “It’s the day we celebrate our freedom and see how far we’ve come.”
Ruffin was next asked why Juneteenth began in 1865 when the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaved in 1863. “After slaves had been freed and the Civil War was over, some people in Texas still had slaves and would not let them go,” she said, noting that slave owners kept their slaves for over two years. “Then they were arrested for brazenly disobeying the law. Just kidding. Slave owners have never been punished.”
The writer then explained how Juneteenth is celebrated. “Usually Juneteenth is celebrated during, like, a block party or with fun music and good food where a little girl sings ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ while I shout at her, ‘You had better get that song sung, baby,'” she said. “But this year, because of COVID, we’re all going to celebrate by watching Alicia Keys and John Legend battle it out on Verzuz.”
She also said that white people can celebrate Juneteenth. “You celebrate it by being thankful that your Black friends and family are free to be whatever they want to be,” she said. “Then you do your best to make that statement true. No costumes please.”
Another person asked if people will get Monday off of work if Juneteenth falls on a weekend. “I don’t have the authority to make that decision, but I’m going to say, ‘Yes, definitely,'” she said.
“Does the holiday Juneteenth make up for all the …” Ruffin read. “No. We’re not going to finish that question. The answer is ‘no,’ no matter what the end of it was.”
When one person asked why they are just hearing about Juneteenth now, Ruffin joked that they should ask their Black friends. “Just kidding. I can tell from your question you don’t have any. But you should make some. We’re fun and you might get invited to a block party,” she said. “Just make sure not to celebrate it by wearing a costume.”
The next question asked was if Juneteenth would become a holiday that’s “an excuse to hold car sales.” She responded, “No, please don’t cheapen it like that.” But then she added that she probably did need a new car since she was unlikely to get back on the subway anytime soon.
For the final question, Ruffin answered how people can address systemic racism. “Hire Black people. Defund the police. Call out white supremacy. Fight the power. Be anti-racist. And most importantly, stop asking Black people how you can address systemic racism,” she said. “I don’t have time to answer all of your questions. I have to go buy a car.”
Watch the full segment below.
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