L.E.K. Associate and Mosaic@LEK member Menelik Epee-Bounya gives us insight into why we celebrate Juneteenth and what L.E.K. Consulting has planned to honor this important holiday.
What is your background and experience as a Black man in the U.S.?
My circumstances are not the same as those of many people who look like me in this country. My parents came to the U.S. for college from the Ivory Coast, so in many ways I don’t have that same ancestral trauma that has been passed down from slavery. But I am a Black man in America, and I have had to navigate that fact in all walks of life, whether it be at school, in the workplace or out in society.
Why do we celebrate Juneteenth?
Juneteenth is a time to honor the work and sacrifices and struggles that Black people have gone through in this country. The U.S. wouldn’t be the U.S. without Black people and their history here. It’s an important time as a country and as individuals to remember that. It’s a time to reflect on how far we have come as a country and to continue toward progress in every way we can.
How do you plan to celebrate?
I specifically will try to use the day to think more about my position in the community, workplace and my family. I’ll think about how I can be better aware of the privileges I have and how my own experiences can be different from others.
I encourage others to think about their own experiences, recognize the privileges that they may or may not have, and strive to make a positive impact in their community every day, but especially on Juneteenth. Whether that be by reading informative articles or anti-racist literature, thinking critically about things, or donating to charities that advance Black communities, there are ways to make an impact. Sometimes it can be daunting, but small steps can make a difference.
What is L.E.K. doing to recognize Juneteenth?
Mosaic@LEK is an affinity group for those in the L.E.K. community who identify as racial and ethnic minorities. The group is organizing events around Juneteenth to celebrate the holiday in each of our U.S. offices. Some will be celebrating with lunches or group trips to Black-owned organizations. We’re also organizing a donation page for multiple causes that L.E.K. is matching. It’s going to be a great time to celebrate and connect with colleagues while thinking about and discussing important issues.