By Sarah Wengert
June is full of blooms and important holidays that celebrate diverse populations like the Black American and LGBTQ communities. This month we celebrate Juneteenth and Pride Month — both important holidays for healthcare professionals to know about. Nurses and allied health professionals, especially those with travel nursing jobs, will serve and work alongside people with a variety of identities from various cultures. To be at the top of your professional game and provide the best patient care, awareness of diversity, inclusion, and equity is essential. Cultural competency in nursing, of course, takes that awareness one step further into action when it comes to how we treat our patients.
As Dr. Jamil Norman, RN and nursing instructor, explained to NurseJournal.org, “cultural competence is the willingness to understand and interact with people of different cultures, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality.” This practice is crucial in the fight for health equity in a world where health inequities often mean lower life expectancies and higher rates of illness for certain populations.
“Nurses must be able to understand and appreciate different cultural backgrounds in order to do their job effectively and with the highest degree of care,” added Dr. Gregory Knapik, DNP, Ph.D.
In the spirit of the June season and increasing our cultural competence, take a moment to learn more about Juneteenth and Pride Month!
Why We Celebrate Juneteenth
Juneteenth, also sometimes known as Emancipation Day, recognizes the end of slavery in the United States. On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring millions of slaves in the Confederate states free. However, it wasn’t until the Union’s General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, more than two years later on June 19, 1865, that the state’s enslaved residents finally learned slavery had been abolished. Juneteenth celebrations erupted immediately, and we continue to recognize the day when all enslaved Americans were officially told of their freedom and freed from their bondage.
While many Americans, largely within the Black community, have been celebrating Juneteenth since the late 1800s, many others have only just learned about this holiday in recent years. In 1980, Texas was the first to make Juneteenth an official state holiday. On June 17, 2021, Juneteenth became a federal holiday — raising awareness even higher nationwide. From family gatherings to parades and beyond, people celebrate Juneteenth in various ways on or around June 19th. We recommend searching your current location to find local events where you can recognize this important day in our nation’s history.
Why We Celebrate Pride Month
Pride Month honors the LGBTQ community and promotes its continuing fight for justice and equity. Pride Month unofficially began as a righteous riot when the Stonewall Riots (also known as the Stonewall Uprising) erupted on June 28, 1969, after New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar. After constant targeting, abuse, and harassment of LGBTQ spaces and individuals, the community was fed up and fought back. The fight continued with protests for another five days. While not the beginning of the LGBTQ rights movement, Stonewall was a key turning point in LGBTQ history.
On the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, the first official Pride March kicked off in New York City, with a crowd of thousands marching from the Stonewall Inn to Central Park. “Say it loud, gay is proud,” was the parade’s official chant. Today, Pride Month is celebrated nationwide with parades and many other events. People of all gender identities and sexual orientations are welcome to join the celebrations. If you want to recognize and celebrate Pride, search for local events in your current location.
We hope this blog helped you learn more about these holidays and your fellow humans — and sometimes patients and colleagues — who celebrate them. Again, we recommend continuing to learn more and seeking out local celebrations you can attend in honor of these events. As a travel nurse, it’s pretty cool that you have the unique chance throughout your career to attend Juneteenth and Pride events all across the country!