I cannot lie, I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with fam last week on that one day. My dad surprised us by flying into town and we kept dinner small and intimate with my mom, sis, nephew, cousins and a couple family friends. I was invited to a “Feast of Gratitude” [basically a vegan potluck dinner to bring friends together that understand the crock that is Thanksgiving but still want to come together and enjoy some good eats] by a newfound friend here in the A, but you know. Mom. “Traditions.” Family time. Sigh. #sideeye.
I did whip up and deliver some peach cobbler cookies for my friend’s feast, but I would have much rather spent the day binging on documentaries and ordering some pizza in my pajamas.. No human contact would probably have been quite lovely. It was fun, but I’m glad it’s over. Now I’m impatiently waiting for Christmas to pass..
Anyway, my sister told me about this real holiday she discovered on the Black twitter [yea, she’s one of those] and I did a little research on it to find out more so I could share with you all:
Umoja Karamu [Unity Feast] is a holiday that is celebrated the fourth Sunday of November and symbolizes unity within the family, community, nation and race. Umoja Karamu is celebrated through the presentation of food with narratives of African-American historical periods.
The host can read about and serve foods representing those periods. The first period Black people in Africa before slavery represented by black foods like beans or blackberries. Second period Blacks in slavery represented by white foods. Third period Black people after emancipation represented by red foods. Fourth period The Black family’s struggle for liberation represented by green foods. And the fifth period The Black family and hopes for the future presented by orange or foods gold in color.
[read more about it here]
Umoja Kamaru is basically a holiday of our very own that wasn’t birthed from a fairytale, violence, disease, destruction, colonialism or genocide. Just a man who saw a need for his people to just say no to the misgivings of thanksgiving.
Like most holidays or anything truly amerikkkan, we’re usually only included and appreciated if it means spending our hard earned money, the permittance of wool being pulled over our eyes, getting killed or fitting a stereotype. None of that unity or happiness or empowerment or Black pride crap.
With this unity feast, we are not bogarting our way into something that clearly was not made for us. Implementing Umoja Karamu, holidays like it and rebuilding from within would be a great start to something bigger and better than all of us. And now that I think about it, I unknowingly celebrated by participating in another potluck last Sunday at the beautiful Nuba Palace Loft [with our famous vegan peach cobbler cookies in tow, of course]. It was with a fun group of Black vegetarians I’d never met in person, and although sis and I are not vegetarians, we were invited and warmly welcomed. And we fit right in. There were lots of laughs, good food and such a great atmosphere.
If I can’t find myself relaxing on the warm sand of a beach this time of year, I really want to make this a thing. I want to dress in ankara prints and cover my table with a kente cloth and have everyone bring a theme-fitting dish. No talk of a job we hate or neighbor we can’t stand, only real issues that will matter in five to ten years. Maybe a group meditation followed by a game of Scrabble or two. And there must be a drummer and/or guitarist. A little Erykah and incense and dancing. And a palm reader.
Black people do not need the approval of the white community to celebrate our holidays.. and even if those Black people who did not participate this time will think long and hard about not participating on future days. Black people have tremendous power when we act in unison. -Carlos Russell, professor and creator of Black Solidarity Day