Are Blacks Addicted to Other People’s Traditions?

So I had this conversation with my kids last night about boycotting Christmas this year and it was both interesting and eye-opening to me.

Although I had mentioned to my kids several months prior that we would not be celebrating Christmas as we had in the past, it clearly didn’t sink in until last night’s conversation.

I brought my kids together and told them that we were joining in with others across the country who would be participating in an economic boycott on Christmas, with the intent of getting America to pay attention to and address the issues facing Black people in this country.

The first time I broached this subject with my kids, I don’t really think it registered with them, but this time it was very different.

I truly believe that the first time I brought this up, my kids were like “whatever Dad” and “can I watch TV”, but this time there was an emotional response like no other.

My middle child – my daughter – started responding to the call to boycott with tons of questions and concerns. She was not happy with the fact that we would be breaking our tradition of celebrating Christmas with receiving gifts and honoring Santa Claus for delivering those gifts.

She was really struggling with the fact that something that I, as a parent, had instilled in her for years, was being done away with. She did not want to seemingly break free from that tradition, and at that point I had a revelation.

I immediately realized that I had been so wrong and irresponsible for teaching my children that they should be more focused on getting material things than honoring Christ, and that I had been teaching my children a lie that they should give all praise and reverence to a fat, White man from the North Pole, who rides a sleigh with reindeer pulling it, and was entirely responsible for the gifts they were receiving. I realized I was the reason they had become addicted to someone else’s tradition and I needed to deal with it.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, an ‘addiction’ is “a strong and harmful need to regularly have something or do something.”

I have a really serious question: Are Black people so addicted to embracing and celebrating other people’s traditions that we cannot part ways with those same traditions in order to send a message and make a bold statement to those other people?

The night before his assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, in which he called for an economic boycott of several major companies in America and he also called for Black people to “redistribute the pain” that had been and was being inflicted upon us for years.

Many people believe this call to action and rhetoric is what really got Dr. King killed and I can see why, because he was seeking to galvanize Black people in a way that showed our economic power and strength, similar to what occurred with the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

He challenged Black people to remove their monies from non-Black banks and place them in banks that supported Black people. He also encouraged Black people to invest in themselves through insurance and supporting Black businesses.

This kind of radical talk, by Dr. King, of a full-fledged economic withdrawal plan was disturbing to non-Black people who consistently relied upon and traditionally benefited from the Black dollar with no expectations, and in most cases, with no consequence for their ill-treatment of Black people. Many companies enjoyed getting the benefit of the Black dollar, but chose to turn a blind eye to the issues Black people were facing.

Christmas is supposed to be about celebrating Jesus Christ – a sacrificial man, who honored God, loved people and met the needs of those who needed their needs met.

Many of us go broke trying to buy gifts we oftentimes can’t afford, for people who probably don’t even need the gifts that they end up receiving. How wise is it for us to continue going into debt, trying to impress our family members or friends that we claim to love?

We need to put the brakes on such irresponsible spending and return Christ to Christmas and focus on Him and our families.

My eldest daughter had a great question that I think deserved acknowledgement. She asked me if we could continue with the Christmas tradition, as long as we buy gifts from a Black business.

I thought it was a profound question, to which I told her we needed to ask ourselves if we want Christmas to continue to be about a tradition that we have adopted from someone else, or whether we should abandon that tradition and redirect our focus of what Christmas means.

If you are not going to join in with the economic boycott, then I have no problem with Black people making the decision to spend their “hard-earned money” with a Black-owned business, and “redistributing the pain” in that way.

Whatever the case, Black people must send a clear message to America this Christmas that we need “justice or else” and that we will continue to use the power of our Black dollar as a tool and a weapon to get the justice we so desperately desire.

I challenge us to move away from any traditions in this country that we have adopted that takes our focus off of its original intent and meaning. Join me in boycotting the traditions that have hijacked Christmas and other great holidays in this country. Are you with me?

Jeffrey L. Boney serves as Associate Editor and is an award-winning journalist for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey is a Next Generation Project Fellow, dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur, business development strategist and Founder/CEO of the Texas Business Alliance. If you would like to request Jeffrey as a speaker, you can reach him at jboney1@texasbusinessalliance.org.