Creating Our Own Legacy & Traditions: Beyond the Commercial Holidays

In the rich mosaic of family life, creating traditions is akin to weaving threads that connect our heritage, current experiences, and future aspirations into a vibrant tapestry of collective identity and sense of belonging. For African American families, establishing our unique traditions is crucial. Often, the broader culture nudges us towards European-centric holidays that, while widely recognized, may not fully embrace our rich cultural legacy or acknowledge the significant contributions of Africans and African Americans throughout history.

These widely marketed holidays often prioritize consumerism over authentic cultural expression and reflection on our distinct historical narratives. While these celebrations can bring people together, it’s vital for African American families to also cultivate traditions that authentically represent our heritage—ones that honor our culture, history, and societal contributions, which are significant and merit recognition throughout the year, not solely during Black History Month.

Forming family traditions rooted in African and African American heritage is a profound way to honor our ancestors’ legacies. This could involve storytelling evenings, where tales of bravery, perseverance, and success are shared across generations, or celebrating significant dates like Juneteenth and Kwanzaa, or even creating new customs that echo our communal aspirations. These activities reinforce family ties and instill a deep sense of pride and self-esteem in younger family members, encouraging them to appreciate their heritage and the collective strength of their community.

Moreover, embracing our traditions serves as a strong rebuttal to the marginalization of African American histories and achievements. It asserts the importance of our stories, not only during a specific month but in the everyday fabric of our lives. These traditions offer a means to educate, uplift, and inspire, ensuring the vibrancy of African and African American cultures continues to enrich and shape society.

Addressing and amending the disproportion in the holidays and traditions we acknowledge is also essential. This requires a critical evaluation of societal norms that favor certain narratives over others and a deliberate action to weave our cultural legacy into our celebrations. By doing so, we pay homage to our forebears, enrich our present, and lay the foundation for a future where African American youths recognize the full scope of their ancestors’ contributions to the world.

Ultimately, forging family traditions grounded in African and African American cultures is more than mere celebration; it’s an act of persistence, enlightenment, and empowerment. It ensures our stories are perpetuated, respected, and celebrated, offering a sense of community and identity far beyond what commercial holidays can provide. As we progress, let’s embrace and maintain these traditions, integrating them into our family lives as seamlessly as the love that unites us.

With Love, Lakischa Smith

Meet Lakischa Smith, a proud mother and a dedicated public health advocate. With a Bachelor’s from Dillard University and a Master’s in Public Health from Florida International University, she’s committed to sharing honest narratives about black motherhood. Lakischa believes in fostering sisterhood to combat the pervasive forces of white supremacy, and empowering African American women to be agents of change for future generations. She asserts that recognizing and addressing our community’s struggles is crucial, for healing is the key to moving forward. Armed with the power of education and a deep belief in collective action, Lakischa is determined to ensure that the issues impacting African American parenthood aren’t just seen—they’re addressed and resolved.

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