TheGrio Daily

The Kwanzaa Fight

Episode 78
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“You can’t fight somebody with hair on their chest and you don’t have hair on your chest that’s against the rules.” Back in Michael Harriot’s teenage years, a special homemade outfit led to a fistfight during a Kwanzaa celebration. This hilarious story is sure to make you laugh out loud. 

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[00:00:00] You are now listening to theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, Black Culture Amplified. 

Michael Harriot [00:00:15] Hello. And welcome to another episode of theGrio Daily. I don’t know if you saw the last episode. If not, just go back and watch it. But, you know, it’s Kwanzaa, man. It’s it’s one of my favorite holidays. Juneteenth is right up there. And what’s another favorite holiday?Any Black college homecoming is actually a holiday. But Kwanzaa is one of my favorite ones because it’s the one I’ve celebrated the longest. And so today I thought, like, you know, you hear podcasts that just basically tells stories. And of course, since this is theGrio, it’s only appropriate that we talk about some Kwanzaa stories that I can share with you. Right. And, you know, we’re going to ingrain some of the Kwanzaa principles in these stories. Right. Like, for instance. Right. So some of the ways that we celebrate Kwanzaa is not just with the different days, but it’s some of the symbology in Kwanzaa that we always use. For instance, the Mazao, which is at every Kwanzaa celebration, they have this basket with like fruit and vegetables. And what that symbolizes is that like the collective joy we have in, I guess, breaking bread or sharing with each other the food, the fruits of our collective works. And one of the things that all of these baskets would have usually is like because they had to be there for all seven days, so they’d put dates in them. 

Michael Harriot [00:02:25] Corn on the cob. Corn on the cob is the Muhindi . And that kind of celebrates like fertility in African culture that celebrate that also symbolizes the children. I don’t know why, but let’s just roll with it. But that’s what the corn symbolizes. And, you know, one of the ways that my mom, this is embarrassing, right? So my mom, she sewed, right? And so every year she would make my sister some Kwanzaa dresses and all of the dresses would have fruit on them that symbolize like this was a Kwanzaa dress when she put cherries on their dresses. But that was their Kwanzaa dress. They were, you know, pretty cute for little girls, right? But, you know, I didn’t have to worry about that because, you know, she didn’t really make boys clothes. Until one year she made a Kwanzaa dress with the Muhindi on it for my sisters. And she said I was going to wear an outfit that kind of complimented my sister’s dresses. So my mama got me some corn colored pants. I swear to God. My mama got me some corn colored pants. That wasn’t embarrassing as much as it was like, so this was the first year, like, we had family, friends, my sister’s friends who were going to go to Kwanzaa celebration with us. And my friend, their brother, Amp, he found out about Kwanzaa pants. It was his first Kwanzaa, so he wanted some Kwanzaa pants, too. So my mom got two pair of corn colored, I mean, bright canary yellow colored Kwanzaa pants for us to wear to Kwanzaa on the first day of Kwanzaa. Right. 

Michael Harriot [00:04:36] So we go to Kwanzaa, man. And of course, since it’s the first day everybody is there because it’s the day that everybody just kicks it outside, like play basketball. So we have to just kicking it with our friends in these bright yellow pants that looks like a canary. And they start just roasting us. I mean, they were roasting us, especially one of my friends named Freaky D. His real name I think was Deon, but everybody just called him Freaky D, Freaky D and this dude named Bobby who was mixed, but, for some reason, everybody call it a Puerto Rican Bobby. Freaky D and Puerto Rican Bobby was his roasted nuts, and I knew it was coming, but my friend Amp didn’t know why they were roasting us. So he challenged Freaky D and Puerto Rican barbecue to a fight. And they were older than us, man. But amp wanted to fight them. 

Michael Harriot [00:05:44] So we go behind the funeral home where we held a Kwanzaa celebration. And I’m scared as heck. But I mean, first of all, Bobby took off his shirt to fight and he had hair on his chest. And I was like, what bruh? Ya’ll got like I’d like that should be a rule in fighting. If one person has hair on their chest, you can’t fight somebody with hair on their chest and you don’t have hair on their chest, that’s against the rules. So first Amop went up against Freaky D and Amp, he lived out in the country so he was strong. And so Amp whipped Freaky D butt. And everybody pulled him off him because, you know, right. Like this rules the fighting. You don’t let it get too far. Of course, everybody knows the universe of, you know, jumping in. But when it came to my turn, I was, like, praying that somebody would just jump in and stop me from fighting this hairy chest Puerto Rican Bobby dude. Because I knew that he was going to whip me. But see, I had one trick up my sleeve, right? I knew he was bigger than me, so I knew he was probably going to knock me down. So when he knocked me down, I used to have this trick where I would grab your legs and then push you with my feet right at your waist, which would make you fall down. Then I would just roll over on top of you. And I was on top of Puerto Rican Bobby about to open a can of whip butt right at the Kwanzaa celebration. When my mom, a friend, came through the path, she owned a local liquor store. So she was always late because she couldn’t close up until after the Kwanzaa celebration started. And Miss Sandra saw us and she grabbed me off top of Puerto Rican Bobby and dragged me to my mama. 

Michael Harriot [00:07:37] Boy, if you want to talk about a cursing out. You should have heard my mama on the way home talking about me and how I messed up her Kwanzaa pants. Man, my mama was, you need to wear fatigues for Kwanzaa. That’s what you going to wear tomorrow. I’m a puts you in some fatigues. You going to wear the fatigues every day. You want to fight then that’s what you’re going to wear, some fatigues. I bought, spent my hard earned money on these yellow pants. Nice yeloow pants. And you got dirty Amal. Look, fight it in my name. You know I didn’t raise you like that. That’s always the thing. I didn’t raise you like that. And by the time I got home she made me, it was like 815 when we got home and I had to go to bed. Now, mind you, this is the day after Christmas. Everybody outside playing with their toys, playing with their new Christmas gifts. And I’m in the bed because I messed up my Kwanzaa pants into Kwanzaa pants fight. And that’s why Kwanzaa is still one of my favorite holidays because everything I remember about that symbolizes how much everybody where I grew up cared about unity. They were going to let us fight. But they weren’t going to let us get hurt. And that’s why Kwanzaa is still one of my favorite holidays. And I’m going to be telling some more of these stories during Kwanzaa on these special episodes of theGrio Daily, where you can subscribe and listen to all of them. You can even tell a friend about it. And you can download theGrio app and hear all these stories like succession. And it’s always going to leave you with the special saying from Black America that symbolizes Kwanzaa, Habari Gani? If you like what you heard, please give us a five star review. Download theGrio app, subscribe to the show and share it with everyone you know. Please email all questions, suggestions and compliments to podcasts at theGrio dot com. 

[00:10:05] You are now listening to theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, Black Culture Amplified.