Welcome back, white people! (I bet you’ve never heard anyone say that before.) After learning about the guest list for Black Thanksgiving, you might be wondering why Black Thanksgiving is so different from wypipo Thanksgiving.
As you learn more about Thanksgiving, many of you will say: “This is almost exactly like white Thanksgiving, but not quite.”
It is always the “not quite” part that is important. I am just as handsome as Idris Elba, but not quite. Donald Trump’s Thousand Island-colored skin bronzer looks very natural, but not quite. America has always treated black people the same as its Caucasian citizens, but not quite.
See the difference?
Nowhere is that subtle difference more apparent than in the food at Black Thanksgiving. The food at Black Thanksgiving is the syrupy-sweet essence of blackness, deep-fried and then covered with aluminum foil. The menu at Black Thanksgiving closely resembles any other Thanksgiving menu ...
But not quite.
Unlike white Thanksgivings, the turkey is one of the least important parts of Black Thanksgiving. It is a necessary ingredient because the turkey is what separates a Thanksgiving meal from a family reunion, a cookout or a post-funeral dinner. In fact, Black Thanksgiving ain’t nothing but an interior-based cookout with a turkey.
The turkey is the one part of the dinner in which uncles participate. Many uncles have begun deep-frying turkeys lately (because what doesn’t taste good when it’s deep-fried?), but uncles are often responsible for carving the turkey. This is not patriarchal. This is simply because every old-ass black man always carries a knife anyway.
This might be different in other cultures’ homes depending on the tool of choice. For instance, Cardi B’s family might use a box cutter to slice the turkey. White people might use racism to divide the turkey into parts. I think I read in a Rolling Stone interview that some people even tried to cut their turkey with Taylor Swift lyrics at last year’s Thanksgiving, but they were too dull.
I won’t even go too deep on this topic because I could talk for hours about this; plus, Very Smart Brothas already covered the subject better than I ever could.
White people eat stuffing. Black people eat dressing.
There’s nothing at all wrong with stuffing, but I personally believe that the continued ingestion of stuffing can lead to behavioral changes like the inability to recognize the downbeat or the desire to masturbate publicly. I’m just saying, I’ve eaten dressing all my life and have never once felt the desire to masturbate in a room with more than one person. Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K. and Mark Halperin ate stuffing all their lives, and look what happened.
That’s just science.
Macaroni is the Beyoncé of the Thanksgiving dishes; it’s the headliner. I know that some white people build their Thanksgiving dinners around mashed potatoes, which is the second-whitest thing I’ve ever heard (Louis C.K.’s polite request is currently atop the charts). Mashed potatoes require no skill at all. The entire recipe is literally in the name. You just mash potatoes. That’s it.
Conversely, macaroni is a big fucking deal. The person who makes the macaroni at Black Thanksgiving requires a majority vote by the aunts, two-thirds of the uncles and still must go through a cousin confirmation hearing. In fact, my aunt Phyllis, our family’s designated maker of dressing and macaroni, suffers from Lou Gehrig’s disease, and we have already selected our cousin Tasha to serve as an apprentice under her tutelage as Aunt Phyllis’ immediate successor.
At some blended Black Thanksgivings, there may be more than one macaroni-maker. In these cases, you will often hear family members inquire as to who made the macaroni. The easiest way to identify a superior crafter of macaroni and cheese (see what I did there) is to listen when people ask the question because there is no tact or subtlety in macaroni-related areas at Black Thanksgiving. People will ask loudly: “Which one of these macaronis is Aunt Phyllis’?”
Like dressing, there is a divide surrounding cornbread. Some people prefer sweet cornbread, while others prefer white people’s cornbread.
Fried chicken must be served at all Black Thanksgivings. It must be seasoned with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and cooked on-site. It must be fried in grease (not cooking oil—“grease.” Cooking oil is for cooking. Grease is for frying) and then laid on a bed of paper towels. Here is the key to Black Thanksgiving fried chicken:
The grease can’t be new.
It must be preused from the last time you made fried chicken. I know you’re thinking, “Well, at some point the grease has to be new!”
Listen, white people, I don’t have the answer to which came first, the chicken or the grease. All I know is my grandmother’s grandmother passed down her chicken grease through six generations and we are still frying chicken in the grease of our ancestors.
Black Thanksgiving is a very yam-based holiday. I am a candied-yam person myself, but some black families will allow sweet potato casserole.
The sweet potato pie is second only to macaroni in importance of “who made this.” Every black family has a designated sweet-potato-pie person, and it is rarely the macaroni-maker. A dual macaroni- and sweet-potato-pie-making aunt is a black unicorn. Many people do both things well, but almost no one is the best at both things.
I don’t recommend dual macaroni- and pie-making because it is very dangerous. Any freak accident to a dual mac-and-pie-maker could ruin Thanksgiving. Don’t chance it. We don’t even let my aunt Marvell (our designated sweet-potato-pie-maker) in the room with Aunt Phyllis. Even though they live literally down the street from each other, they can only talk by phone.
Until I showed them how to FaceTime—which was one of the most difficult things I have ever done; you try teaching two 70-year-old black women how to use an iPhone. It’s like explaining devil magic—they hadn’t seen each other in 34 years. Hopefully, once Tasha finishes her master’s in macaroni, Phyllis and Marvell can reunite.
Greens are a low-key dish with an important value. The only thing you must know about collards is that it matters who cleaned them more than it matters who cooked them.
A Brief Word About Chitlins
I am neither anti- nor pro-chitlins. I grew up in a no-chitlins family, so it is not part of my family tradition, but I recognize that there are people who equate Thanksgiving with chitlins. There is only one thing I want to say to bougie black people:
I am from the Deep South and was surrounded by chitlin eaters. They are just like you and me. They put on their dingy overalls one leg at a time. If they want to spend hours rinsing dooky off pig intestines, who am I to judge? Maybe it’s the black version of kissing dogs in the mouth. Let them live.
While this is in no way a comprehensive list, there is a very important thing Caucasians need to know about Black Thanksgiving:
This is no time for white-people shit.
I understand that white people are excited by trying new things like jumping off cliffs with kites strapped to their back and public masturbation, but Thanksgiving is not the place for their gentrification efforts. On Tuesday, a concerned friend sent me this:
As I knelt in prayer for him during his hour of need, I knew this had to be a white person. And I’m not one of those people who think that pineapples don’t go on pizza. It’s your pizza, do whatever the fuck you want.
But there are times where you should refrain from your Caucasian shenanigans, and Black Thanksgiving is one of those times. Do not put raisins in your dressing. No one wants vegan pork chops or gluten-free cornbread at Thanksgiving. This is a time to keep your whiteness in check.
This is in no way a complete menu. These are simply the staples of Black Thanksgiving. Notice that all things at Black Thanksgiving are homemade. If you bring a store-bought dish to Black Thanksgiving, you might as well bring Louis C.K. because it’s the same thing: an inappropriately gross public display.
If you are ever invited to Black Thanksgiving, now you know what you will eat. This menu is as universal as it is black. And I’m not saying that white people can’t understand this tradition, because white people have as much ability to infuse their culture and love into their food as black people ...
But not quite.