Naya Tapper competes during the women's placing match against Team China at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on July 31, 2021 in Chofu, Tokyo, Japan.
Embarrassingly, I wasn't aware of Juneteenth and its celebration until only a couple years ago. Unlike others, I don’t remember learning about the holiday in school or even being around people who knew or celebrated it. I am glad that is not the case today. Thanks to one of my great teammates and social media, I was informed on what exactly Juneteenth was and why it was important to acknowledge and celebrate it. I have done my thorough research on the holiday and celebrated Juneteenth for the past three years now with many of my good friends and social media followers.
I make it a priority to spread the word through my social media platforms to inform people of what Juneteenth is and why it is important to me knowing that there may be people like myself a couple years ago that didn’t even know the holiday existed.
My appreciation for the holiday has grown tremendously as well as my knowledge on why it's a holiday in the first place. Junetenth has become very important to me in terms of celebrating my ancestors' official emancipation and admiring them and us for our perseverance despite all the adversities and hardships we have had to deal with. Juneteenth was a story of the suffering and pain of my people but also the comeback and joy of them.
On Juneteenth, I enjoy spending time with my friends, making delicious dishes to eat and converse over, admiring my beautiful black people, and honoring the history and heritage. My people are still dealing with negligence and lack of freedom in this country in certain aspects of life so at times it is hard for me to truly enjoy this holiday and what it stands for. But overall, it's a start to showing what a beautiful life us black people can live and how far we’ve come. We deserve to celebrate and be celebrated.
Rugby player, 2020 Olympian