Member Blog Posts

Beans, Greens, Potatoes, Tomatoes and the Richness of Traditions in the Black Community

If you have internet or television access you’re probably familiar with the refrain “I got beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes, lamb, ram, hogs dogs… beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes, turkey…You Name It!”

The first remix I saw was by D.J. Suede and can be found here. The question being asked was “Grandma, what are you cooking for Thanksgiving?”

Sharing meals with extended family has produced lasting memories for many within the Black community. For those in my generation who grew up in “da chuch” they might have immediately recognized the voice of Pastor Shirley Caesar and the chords from her hit song “Hold My Mule” bringing back memories of Sunday mornings, big hats and briskly moving fans.

The simplicity and inexpensiveness of the ingredients aren’t what make the meals memorable it’s the making of memories, the sharing of history and the celebrations of life. The recipes that aren’t written down but learned by watching and helping create them. The blending of personalities and favorite ingredients to create food that feeds the body and the soul. Family and friends from far and near gathered together to reaffirm that even in the midst of trying times we can find comfort and hope with each other.

Tables groaning under the weight of more food than those who are gathered can eat in a sitting, that’s why everybody needs to bring their own Tupperware and foil. All the best places for a quick nap already scoped out ahead of time. Friendly rivalry over cards and dominos and the wonderful sounds of children’s laughter reminds adults to make their world the best that they possibly can.

I think that one of the most beautiful things about traditions is that they have the ability to adapt and change as the family grows and changes. For us it now includes acknowledging that Thanksgiving Day in America is considered a day of mourning for some Native Americans. We acknowledge the history and their contributions and send prayers of peace and prosperity to the heavens on their behalf.

How ever you choose to celebrate, or not, enjoy your family every opportunity you have. Listen to the elders tell their stories, help them prepare dishes “the old-fashioned” way. Listen to the young folk’s music with an ear to hearing their message, not passing judgement but allowing them to simply be heard. Validate their voices for they speak of our tomorrows. Dance with the little ones and delight in their discovery of matching rhythm to movements. Use this time to connect, affirm, and expand all the good things that you have.

Enjoy your family and enjoy your life!