Black Funerals And The Importance Of The Repast Tradition

funeral of nineteen year old black saw mill worker
Briona Lamback
February 7, 2023

Grief is complicated.  Unfortunately, many of our people know it all too well because systemic racism continues claiming the lives of our loved ones. 

But there is something unique about how we grieve.

Black homegoings are special. Beyond our grief, it’s customary to treat funeral services as a celebration of life. One way we’ve always done that is with the repast tradition.

Food is a necessary part of our mourning, a rite of passage. Funerals are emotionally taxing, and our funeral foods, from turkeys and hams to cakes and pies, wrap us in community care during a time when it’s most needed. 

Enslaved folks often hosted elaborately planned funerals and repasts, a continuation of West African tradition.

The reality of living in an anti-Black world is that we are often gone too soon. From systemic racism in healthcare to police brutality, we grieve too often and too early in life.

Our traditions are sacred. Let’s continue holding up each other in our everyday lives as we do when we say goodbye to loved ones.

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