When our co-founders, sisters Renee and Tiffany Tam, set out to create their brand KIM+ONO, they were uplifting and celebrating their own families’ heritages. They were celebrating what had gone before in order to make something brand new. Each and every one of our kimono styles is inspired by historical influences, art and craftsmanship from long ago, and the heritage that is so deeply woven into their family history. And it’s through that inspiration that Renee and Tiffany have created brand new modern designs of silk robes for women that are connected to their past, but forward looking to a brighter future. A future where everyone can take time for self care, for reflection, deep breaths, and a peace of mind that’s easily lost in the day to day of life.
It’s with that spirit, that connection to our founders’ own family history, that we stand with our Black brothers and sisters this week to celebrate Juneteenth. Although it’s not yet a federally recognized holiday, 47 states plus the District of Columbia all mark this momentous day as a landmark first step on our country’s long and arduous journey toward equality and freedom. So today in the journal, we’re celebrating, remembering, and uplifting the Juneteenth holiday. As we well know, the only way to truly grow as a country and come together in peace and love is to acknowledge where we came from to decide where we’re going.
What is Juneteenth? While you may have learned about the Emancipation Proclamation set forth by President Abraham Lincoln on September 22, 1862, you may not have realized that the end of slavery didn’t happen immediately. In fact, it took years for it to come to fruition, even after the law was passed. The Emancipation Proclamation became effective law three and a half months later, on January 1, 1863, and it declared that “all enslaved people in the Confederate States of America in rebellion and not in Union hands were freed.”
Planters and enslavers moved to Texas from the east coast to escape the war, bringing enslaved people with them. Eventually, there were about 250,000 enslaved people living in Texas. Because of the widespread nature of the country and relative isolation due to lack of communication at that time, enslaved people in Texas were the last to know that the Emancipation Proclamation had been declared. And it wasn’t until June 19, 1865 that federal troops arrived in Texas to enforce the emancipation of enslaved people and ensure a peaceful transition of power, which included nullifying all the laws within Texas that were passed by Confederate lawmakers during the war. While enslavers knew about the proclamation, they kept it from the people they were enslaving, so it wasn’t until this day — June 19, 1865 — that there was a fully encompassing end to slavery.
Last year, our small family business, owned by women of color, stood proudly with our Black brothers and sisters to say Black lives matter; and we will continue saying it loudly and proudly. We told our community that our mission has always been to create an empowered, safe, uplifted space for women to shine like the queens they are. And we set forth the following agenda for ourselves to put our values into action. We committed to:
Donating to organizations that fight racial injustice. Last year, we donated to the NAACP, as well as Campaign Zero, Black Women’s Blueprint, and Project Nia.
Continuing to create images that honor the diversity of our country and de-center the white gaze and continuing to work with a diverse group of artists behind the scenes. Although our capacity for editorial shoots was severely limited by Covid, once it was safe, we were able to create two new branded shoots with a BIPOC team in front of and behind the lens.
Addressing wellness topics across our journal posts that are important to Black women specifically. We featured incredible women who offered advice and insight on how to bring wellness into your daily practice, and the daunting task of new motherhood (especially during the pandemic).
Featuring Black-owned small businesses and brands that we love. We shared stories from amazing entrepreneurs who are running incredible businesses and brands like Ashleigh Reddy Photography, The Lingerie Addict, and The Astute Agency.
Educating ourselves on how to practice anti-racism and true allyship and looking inwardly to challenge any pattern that doesn’t align with our belief that every man and woman is created equal. Our team members have participated in unlearning groups dedicated to anti-racism education.
Among the myriad lessons we’ve taken from 2020, learning to rest has certainly been one of them. From the uprisings for social justice, to keeping our families and neighbors safe from the Coronavirus, we have learned that the best way to make revolutionary change is to know when to push and when to rest. The timing is different for everyone, and the kind of rest you might need will be different from someone else’s. There is so much work to be done to create a fair and equal society, as a small business owned by women of color, we certainly know this to be true. So when there is a far way to go to achieve a beautiful world we can all feel safe and valued in, we need to learn to rest. Maybe that means slipping into your favorite kimono style, or shutting off your social media, or talking with a beloved friend on the phone, or simply taking some time to be quiet and still. Whatever your practice, rest should be part of the revolution for racial justice. We’ve come so far from June 19, 1865, but we all know we still have much work to do. To be prepared for that work, we need to know when to slow down, rest, and rebuild our strength.
This Juneteenth, we celebrate the end of slavery. We proudly say Black Lives Matter. And we commit to being part of the powerful change that happens when we stand together in the name of love.