Black Family Reunions

One of my favorite things about inhabiting a brown body is the shared cultural heritage, connection, and celebration.  Sharing stories of all too familiar (good) experiences of being black in America is one of my favorite pastimes. Recently, I had a hilariously side-splitting conversation with two black co-workers about our similar experiences at black churches of differing denominations that were each in entirely different corners of the country. The continuity and sweet familiarity is a great binding agent amongst a widely and wonderfully diverse group of people. As it is summer, I would be remiss not to give a shout-out to the cherished and time honored communal celebration that is the black family reunion. Keep reading and see if you can fill up your black family reunion Bingo card:

  • Your reunion is a weekend-long event with a reception/fish fry/crab boil on Friday, the cookout on Saturday, and church on Sunday with an optional early dinner (of Saturday’s leftovers)
  • Your family reunion was the only vacation your family could afford some years
  • One reason it was affordable is that your bed was the floor of a relative’s home or hotel room
  • Reunion t-shirts prominently featuring some species of tree
  • Babies are passed around like church collection plates all weekend
  • The one (or more–sugary drinks are aplenty)youngin’ wilding out all day finally getting dragged to the bathroom by his grandmother who “don’t play that” and sits sniffling in the corner until he/she “knows how to act.”
  • One or more relatives sporting a monitoring device…that’s not a Fitbit
  • Random military cousins who haven’t been in attendance since ’83 show up with their European or Asian wife and kids
  • Impromptu liquor runs…this includes the actual liquor store or just to your uncle’s trunk because the liquor license was not purchased for the pavilion
  • Mandatory uniform for the grill cook: an XXXL shirt t-shirt (white or a vintage reunion shirt), a sweat towel draped over his shoulder, man-capris (i.e., oversized mid-calf skimming jean shorts), white kicks (because he’s never one to spill the BBQ), a fitted cap and a Bluetooth
  • Cookout starts at 10 AM, and the pavilion reaches a critical mass by 3 PM, but y’all can’t eat because the grilled meat ain’t ready until 6 PM.
  • Family business meetings where someone always has an irrelevant and ancient bone to pick
  • Your entré into adolescence was marked by aunties looking you up and down and saying “Ain’t you cute/handsome?”
  • Showing up extra fly the year you’re finally old enough to hang with your older cousins after the cookout
  • Being quizzed and preached to about your marital status despite the fact that we all just accept that Uncle Kenneth has been shacking up with Ms. Deloris for 30 years despite technically still being married to Auntie Karen
  • Going to bed on Saturday night (or Sunday morning) dreaming about digging into your take-home plate.  Shanna K Houser Contributor

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