It is that time of year when families cook delicious soul food feasts, when mothers and fathers storm the stores early in the morning and late after work for children’s gifts, and when everyone decorates their homes with seasonal items like fall colors and Christmas trees.

Holidays in America are times of celebration, family, and White people.

What do White people have to do with holidays?

Over the years, some Black families have moved toward disassociating themselves from holidays that have a history stemming from an oppressive culture. This could very well be every nationally recognized and celebrated holiday in America.

People have made these transitions for several reasons including their pagan origins, oppressive roots, and their seemingly hypnotizing effects. Often during holidays, individuals become possessed by the spirit of the celebration and do not act normally.

Ishakamusa Barashango, Ph.D., a Black liberationist and lecturer taught that holidays are merely mechanisms established by people of European descent to continue to oppress and suppress Black people and deify themselves.

“We are so compelled by the conditions in the environment (in which) we are living to look at things in a fantasy manner rather from the viewpoint of reality. We are still being subject to a European worldview,” the teacher said at a 1990s lecture about European holidays and Black mental genocide.

He further explained that due to the whitewashing of African culture in America, the African perspective of life and happiness and celebrations has been distorted, perverted, and converted to a European worldview.

“Holidays are the institutionalized celebration of the thoughts and ideas of a particular philosophical worldview … The celebration of holidays helps to establish and maintain strong emotional and cultural bonds between you and that which you are celebrating. When we celebrate European holidays, what are we binding ourselves to?” Barashango asked.

We just celebrated Thanksgiving, or in the eyes of some liberationists like Barashango, Native American genocide. Several other American holidays like Halloween, Columbus Day, and Christmas come from European philosophies, pagan religious practices and celebrations of White’s victory over their enemies.

Our African ancestors did celebrate many things like the harvest and victory, but Barashango emphasized in his lecture that we have never celebrated the victory of our enemies over us as we do today in America.

“Thanksgiving Day literally is a holiday celebrating the beginnings of the almost total extermination of an entire race of people, commonly called ‘Indians’, and the enslavement, continued oppression and genocide of the African, by European settlers … For over 100 years now.

Black folks in the United States have joined with the descendants of the same European murder[er]s who enslaved them and systematically all but destroyed the Amer-Indian, in feasting and giving thanks to God for the (opportunity) to live in one of the most racist, imperialist, and oppressive countries on earth …. Black People celebrating Thanksgiving Day is like the Americans celebrating the bombing of Pearl Harbor, or the so-called Jews celebrating the rise of the Third Reich, or the Palestinians celebrating the intrusion of the settler colony of Zionist Israel, or moreover the millions of Zulu descendants who are being murdered by the thousands each day, celebrating the establishment of the Union of South Africa …”

Frederick Douglass wrote in “Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave,” that during chattel slavery, enslaved Blacks were not obligated to work from Christmas to the New Year. He wrote that it was unfavorable for Blacks to work and they were encouraged to indulge in drunkenness and merriment.

“From what I know of the effect of these holidays upon the slave, I believe them to be among the most effective means in the hands of the slaveholder in keeping down the spirit of insurrection,” Douglass wrote. He added that, if enslaved Africans had been given the freedom to work, focus, and reject the spirit of the holidays, they would eventually rebel.

The spirit of the holidays seems to invoke cheer and help people forget the bad in their lives. And in some opinions, the holidays are also time, when the oppressor reminds the world of his victories in a subtle, festive way.

Barashango and Douglass remind Black Americans, however, that many of the holidays we have adopted and have become attached to may simply be distractions weakening the spirit of Black freedom. As implied by Black liberationists and leaders, spiritual elevation may not always involve Bible readings and a preacher. Sometimes it means recognizing our environmental truths and making strides to renew our original Black mind.