The culture is alive and well!
When we talk about culture and what it means to us as a community, we are put in deep remembrance of some of our most sacred traditions. Without traditions, culture dies and the shared similarities between brethren get more and more scarce. It is incumbent upon each generation to pass down the knowledge, wisdom, and traditions of their ancestors and ensure that those values we hold dear stay alive.
When Black people had their names, language, and religion stolen, traditions kept the culture alive. Some traditions have been with us since the beginning of time, others are fairly newer but they are all important nonetheless. To make sure we’re doing our part to preserve the culture, here are 8 traditions we think you should be keeping alive in the Black community.
Eat Your Black-Eyed Peas
Listen, the coming of a new year will always bring about lots of superstitions, from making new year's resolutions to making sure the men walk in the house first and have money in their pockets. Regardless of what your traditions are across regions for the new year, there is one that we believe all Black people need to abide by…eat your black-eyed peas. We don’t know who started this tradition and if cooked right, the beans are definitely a hit, but we stand by the fact that eating your black-eyed peas is a surefire way to ensure abundance and prosperity for the new year. When 2020 came, the young folks didn’t have their black-eyed pea plates posted on the socials and we’re not saying that’s why COVID came but we’re just saying, let’s not forget to eat them again, ok!
Spades Must Be Played At Family Gatherings
America has lots of holidays and while we observe them all, it ain’t for the same reason as everybody else. Whether labor day, memorial day, or independence day…it all means the same to the Black community, a cookout. No gathering is more sacred in our community than the cookout and while you may go back and forth about who is cooking the potato salad or how many to-go plates is too much, one thing is for certain, there MUST be a Spades table. Because it just ain't a cookout without Spades. PERIOD.
Saturday Mornings Are For Cleaning & Old School Music
This one is near and dear to our hearts. When we hear kids who don’t know certain songs or aren’t familiar with the likes of Anita Baker, we’re going to assume your mama didn’t clean good. Because Saturday mornings are for cleaning and cleaning automatically means old-school music. Passing music down in our community is a right of passage and the best way to get the music embedded in the next generation's psyche is by playing it consistently week after week. What better way to do that than when you’re cleaning up - on SATURDAY morning only!
Listen, we love the kids. There’s no better feeling than seeing all the babies together for sleepovers, birthday parties, summer stays at grandma’s and of course the holidays. They just warm our hearts and make life all that much more enjoyable. However, we have to make sure the babies know to speak when they enter a room or someone’s house. A simple “good morning,” or “hello,” or “hi,” is all that’s needed, but it’s needed nonetheless!
Family Has Nothing To Do With Biology
Black folks have a long and deeply rooted history in kinship. We have survived the worst atrocities and we’ve survived them with people who may not have been blood, but they were definitely family. There are no such things as half-siblings or step-parents, and your aunties and cousins may or may not actually be biologically related to you, but you’ll find that out when you get grown. But for now, let’s remember that in our community, family is who you choose, and there’s power, love, and sustainability in that.
There MUST Be An Annual Family Reunion
We know this is a touchy subject because getting the family together is hard and most of the elders have abandoned this tradition in support of their own peace. But family traditions are a decidedly Black experience. They ensure that the family stays connected and it’s a long passed down tradition that we need to keep. The family reunion is where we pass down our oral histories, celebrate the elders, connect with family and make sure the children know one another. Lots of history is lost when the family reunions die and if you don’t get together any other time, this should be one of them. It’s also a good time to keep family records, collect those matching t-shirts and photograph a lifetime of memories.
A Celebration of Life
Just as important as the day you’re born is the day you die and nobody does homegoing services like Black folks. No matter what your religious beliefs and what your final rights preferences are, the death of a community member is sacred. We will be gathering, there will be songs, it may be 2 - 8 hours, there might be a color theme and if nothing else, we want to know whose gonna do the body because professional, preferably Black-owned funeral homes matter.
First Giving Honor To God Who Is The Head Of Our Life
We aren’t trying to step on any toes and to be truthful, we don’t care who you pray to. What we do deeply care about is the keeping of spirituality as front and center in Black life. There is no Black culture that exists without deep spiritual work and it is a grounding and rooting that has sustained and carried us through a thousand generations. Spirituality is present in our songs, our foods, our communal gatherings, and even our jokes. Let’s ensure we pass down our spiritual practices to the next generation so they will one day tell the stories of how we got over. And let’s make sure we’re respectful of everyone’s journey because there is no wrong way to give honor to God who is the head of our life. That’s a good place to shout!
Let’s preserve the culture!
Cover photos: 8 traditions to keep alive in the Black community/Photo Courtesy of Getty Images