By: Lisa Hurley
The backstory behind why The Great Exhale™ was launched on that date.
A few months ago, when The Great Exhale was in the planning stages, the team had our Who, What, Where, and How decided. The only thing left to choose was our When. Almost serendipitously, Juneteenth popped into our heads. June 19th was actually going to be the perfect launch day. To give you an idea of why, let’s start with the history:
Juneteenth (a portmanteau of “June” and “nineteenth”) is a holiday that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved Black people in the United States. According to History.com “Juneteenth…marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed. The troops’ arrival came a full two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth honors the end to slavery in the United States and is considered the longest-running African American holiday. On June 17, 2021, it officially became a federal holiday.” Juneteenth is also unofficially known as America’s second Independence Day, and officially known as the Juneteenth National Independence Day.
The themes of liberation, agency, and celebration are therefore embedded into the meaning of holiday. This is why the date holds so much resonance for us. This is why we decided to launch The Great Exhale on Juneteenth.
We are choosing to liberate ourselves from harmful spaces and communities.
We are choosing to have greater agency over what we say, what we do, how we show up in the world.
We are choosing to celebrate Black sisterhood, because honestly–there’s nothing like it.
Another key theme is that of divesting from (unpaid) labor. The historical context has unfortunately carried forward to the present day. Black people generally, and especially Black women, are often overworked, undervalued, and underpaid. We are the most marginalized of all marginalized communities. To paraphrase Zora Neale Hurston, Black women are frequently treated like “the mules of the world.”
At The Great Exhale we plan to change that.
Our goal is that TGE will be an oasis for Black women. Our vision is that it will be a space where Black women feel seen, valued, loved, relaxed, and most importantly–free.
Juneteenth is a holiday that centers us; a day on which we can divest from overwork and harmful spaces that have traditionally been our lot to bear. All of this is why we could think of no better date than Juneteenth to bring The Great Exhale community to the world.
Ready to exhale? Join us today.