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Fight the Power: Squash your beef this holiday season

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Gucci Mane and Jeezy's “Verzuz” filled everyone with anxiety.

“Verzuz” is an online musical competition in which two rappers, singers or producers go back and forth to play each other's hits. Sure, there's a WWF element to the showmanship of the competition, but this was different. If other rappers had beef, these two had the filet mignon of disagreements (without going into too much detail, Gucci ended up killing one of Jeezy's friends in what was determined self-defense).

The public thought the event could end in a fight or get canceled because some beef is just too thick. Instead, the episode ended with the pair performing a song together and publicly squashing a feud that lasted 15 years.

Moments later, I peeped the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” 30-year reunion special, and Will Smith had a sit down with Janet Hubert (AKA the O.G. Aunt Viv, infamously recast because Smith and her didn't get along).

Before they sat down, they hadn't spoken in 27 years. When they forgave each other and hugged it out, in between the tears (theirs and mine), I realized the power of Black healing, and I'm here for it, a sentiment that seems perfect for this week of Thanksgiving and the ensuing holiday season.

I grew up in a culture where the idea of "self care" didn't exist. Admitting to depression or seeing a therapist was always a faux pas. One of the few bright spots of 2020 is that our time spent alone at home has given us time to self-reflect, regardless of whether we wanted to.

As a result, I've had many friends from similar backgrounds talk to me about taking mental health seriously and seeking help. I even got my first mani-pedi this year, and it frickin' changed my life. If I told my father such a thing years ago, he would've looked at me as if I told him I wanted to be a professional balloon maker.

I think about these moments of healing as we approach the holidays because this year’s experience will be at odds with what we’re accustomed to. All of the things we get annoyed about with Thanksgiving are — if we handle ourselves responsibly in response to the ‘rona — coming to halt.

No spades tournaments, no visits from the crazy cousin that everyone else in the family bonds over because of their mutual disdain, no styrofoam plates with aluminum foil, and no drunk uncles dropping conspiracy theories about the election.

I usually hate those moments, but being deprived of them makes me understand their importance and the importance of nurturing those relationships and not just seeing them once a year on the holidays. I extend that to those family members that you may have tension with (and somehow wait for Turkey Day to air your grievances like it’s Festivus Feats of Strength).

Solve these issues now. Float out an awkward “I love you” message to those relatives or even an unsolicited apology that they never thought they would get. 2020 has proven that with so many unknowns, it’s unwise to wait to squash family beef next year.

COVID numbers are soaring back up again, and I miss my family. I haven't given my mother or sister a hug since March. My sister has special needs and wants to greet her younger brother by grabbing him and GIVING an occasional fist bump. We've now resorted to air fist bumps and me stopping her when she's reaches with open arms. She doesn't understand what's going on, but she knows that things are different.

I'm not a fan of platitudes, mainly when used in moments that require more depth and understanding. But I want to offer love this holiday season. If there have been beefs in my life, I assure you that it's not coming from my direction, and I want to offer grace to anyone I may have had odds with over the years.

I've done my share of crying in 2020. I want next year to be the year of healing those wounds.

But I'll settle for hugging my family again.

Preach Jacobs is a musician, artist and activist and founder of Cola-Con and indie label Sounds Familiar Records. You can hear his podcasts and read more work at FightThePower.co.

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