Saturday, December 6, 2014

This Year Will be a "Kwanzaa" Christmas.

When my mother announced to me that we will not be celebrating Christmas this year, I could not hide my shock. If you knew my mother, you would understand my reaction.

My mother has always lived for holidays.  When we were young, she would give us cards for St. Patrick's Day (in honor of her dark-skinned father, my grandfather, who was part-Irish), Happy Sweetest Day, Halloween, Easter, Christmas--you name it. I have boxes of cards from her over my lifetime.  She is always eager to take down the storage boxes for whatever holiday is approaching so she can decorate the house.  She does things in reverse order and it is always a source of rancor in our two-person household: I prefer to clean, then decorate; she prefers to decorate, then clean.

I get it.  She's had a very, very hard life in this country of her birth.  Her only country.  That denied her so much because she was Black and brilliant. When her career as a classically-trained pianist dictated that she would only be able to have a career in Europe, she opted to get married, instead, and raise six children with her husband, my father, a carpenter.  While raising us, working four jobs, and being in a marriage devoid of a true partnership and love, she overcame alcoholism and addiction to pills.  Finding happiness in other less deleterious outlets, like celebrating holidays, is essential, I guess. It beat drinking.

Ergo, for my mother--holidays were something to live for.

Until the Eric Garner verdict.

It is as though a light-bulb went off in her head.  She had bought into a system that only wanted her to buy happiness, not experience it. America wants Black money, but doesn't want Black participation in daily life. If we're on stage performing, making people happy, we're good to go.  But can we shop in any store we want to, walk down the middle of the street, even sell a cheap cigarette and not get killed? Black people can be killed for petty crimes, while society gets away with wholesale purposeful subjugation of a whole people because they had the temerity to stay alive and not jump overboard on the way to slavery in America?

And we are still alive. And boy, do we love to shop. We can look good, even if society hates us. We give money to a country that does not want us. Our whole government system is based upon our subjugation:

1. The electoral college was created so that Blacks couldn't numerically overwhelm the white electorate in the South.
2.  Grand juries are supposed to rubber-stamp a prosecutor's predilection for putting Black people in prison, disproportionate to our numbers.
3.  Corporations owned by White shareholders could get tax breaks, while Black men who could not find work were forced to abandon their families so their wives could get assistance.

But the one part of American life we are asked to wholeheartedly participate in is consumerism. And we are the most patriotic on the planet. The world watches us shop, then buys what we buy.  And we buy White.

Yes, me, too:

I used to buy designer Ferragamo and Bruno Magli shoes.
Tag Hauer and Longines watches.
The Tommy Hilfiger outlet has some really affordable buys.
Jones of New York suits when the brand was still good.
European bras.

I am not immune to wanting quality clothing and accessories.  But in whose pockets was that money going and was any of it going into the Black community? Of course not.

Black Americans need to stop supporting an economic system that does not support us.  There are millions of Black Americans who came to this conclusion years before my mother's light-bulb moment.

To Buy Black is not to hate Whites. It means you are proud of your heritage and support it.
Irish support Irish.
Italians support Italians.
Asians support Asians.
Latinos have businesses that support each other.

What happens when Blacks congregate?

We're asked why we're eating together at the lunch tables in school, segregating ourselves.
Black men are not allowed to congregate in threes.
Besides Barbershops and hair salons that specialize in Black hair care, economically, Black Americans support every race on the planet.
Certain institutions historically do not want Blacks to have rights--just spend money and make them rich.

In declaring this manifesto, are we planning to sever ties with our White friends? Of course not. We know that the pain of the verdict is felt in the hearts of many people who are not Black. We have spent numerous Christmas dinners with our close friends, who, though White, are like family, to us, and this Christmas will be no different. 

To affirm our ethnic solidarity is not heresy. It is pride. It is a conscious decision to uplift our brethren, economically.  We have been doing it for low-income job seekers as resume-writers for over 12 years now, but that's another story. 

Kwanzaa was always "in" in our family, but, now it's going to be 365 days of the year.

Black America may be late to the game. But the game isn't over. We can become the economic powerhouse that we should be. Buy Black. Support Black.

There are hundreds of businesses who have been preaching the gospel for years.  Here is a directory to get you started in your searches.

Add your organizations names to this list in the comments section. 

1 comment:

Sylvia Hampton said...

Totally agree that Blacks should speak their truth through supporting one and economically...than we will get our seat at the table...or better yet we will OWN the table!

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