Such are the points raised in a new film from Noir, the Black affinity group at Wieden+Kennedy New York, created with a host of other Black creative contributors from the production community. Titled “Juneteenth Thoughts,” it aims to be a catalyst for thoughtful conversation and dialogue around Juneteenth, how the holiday should be celebrated and by whom.
Wieden+Kennedy’s Tommy Woods, the lead creative and writer on the project, said the idea was inspired by an earlier Juneteenth when he and a friend had to be on the job. “[We] had a conversation about how ironic it was that we had to work while many of our white co-workers were partaking in the holiday,” he said. As they built on the idea further, it “only reinforced how common that conversation, or ones similar to it, are within the Black community.”
Though the film tackles a serious subject, lighthearted moments weave throughout. The friends go on to joke, for example, about what this day will bring. Juneteenth just became a federal holiday in 2021 and since the 19th is on a Sunday this year, the federal holiday is being observed on June 20.
“Are they really celebrating?” the man asks. “Or is it just another day off? A 10% off mattresses holiday!”
“No, it’s 19% off Juneteenth savings,” the woman jokes.
Such moments were an important, deliberate decision, according to Senior Strategist Donovan Triplett. There’s a “tendency in the ad industry to treat Black topics with a sort of one-note brand of seriousness, [with] lots of intense statements or earnest spotlights,” he said. “The fuller picture of living life while Black is that we joke about everything. And it’s often conversational humor that helps us express or navigate our feelings on even the toughest topics.”
Triplett acknowledged that “there’s a natural Black vs. white that’s unavoidable when you’re talking about a holiday like Juneteenth,” but the team “also didn’t want ‘what white people need to hear’ to take up all the space.”