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A Blessed and Meaningful Kwanzaa

A Blessed and Meaningful Kwanzaa

Last year, embarrassingly for the first time, my husband and I celebrated, shared Kwanzaa as a family. It has that duality. Celebrating Kwanzaa is sharing Kwanzaa with people you love. I don’t think it was ever meant to be shared alone. It starts in fact, with the first of the seven principles of Kwanzaa, Umoja, is unity. Of the family, of the community, the nation, the race. In honor of Umoja, if you can, you may choose to reach out and rekindle friendships, and smooth ruffled feathers, erase debts, and put hurts aside. Maybe even just for a day… and perhaps a day after.

And then there is Kujichagulia, self determination. As black people, across the diaspora, this is so sorely needed. Europe broke us in so many ways, coerced/encouraged us to stand in awe of them, and think that their ways were superior. We yearn for America and Europe, without knowing how to develop what we have and who we are, where we are. Self-determination. To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, speak for ourselves. For if we do not, it will be done for us, and we will be cast as the villains in the play, to be subjugated, slaughtered, vanquished, for the applause of the masses.

Ujima is where the work begins. Collective Work and Responsibility. To take the coming together of Umoja and the self-determination of Kujichagulia and build. Together. To look at our problems, without AND within, take responsibility for them, and find solutions for them. When I see this, I think of Baltimore, MD, near where I live, where the annual murder rate is usually up to 10 by the end of the first week. We have to come together to solve this. No one will do it for us.

Ujamaa is more work – cooperative economics. Turning over dollars in the black community. Did you know that there is a woman who was determined to only buy black for a year. It’s something I work at. I belong to two Facebook groups that bring together black businesses in Baltimore/Maryland. You can go and ask for just about anything and someone will respond. Plumbers, carpenters, movers, electricians. If you are a homeowner, you know how vital these things are. And when I find someone dependable, who does a good job, I praise and promote them. I would not be surprised if every major city had such a Facebook group. Find it, join it, use it.

Nia is purpose, again a time for looking inward. What is our reason for doing these things? It is to build for ourselves an upswelling of power and greatness, to be a force to be reckoned with. NOT a monolith. But able to rally for common causes. And to be sought after, not just forever seeking.

How do we do this, build greatness? With Kuumba. Creativity. If what we tried last year did not work, then we brainstorm again, and again, putting our minds together to find ways to move ourselves forward, solve our own problems. So that we can tell our own stories, name our own heroes, know our own legends. And make our community better than we found it.

And we end with faith. Imani. For so many, we put our faith in a deity because people seem to always fail us. But if we can start by putting faith in ourselves, then we can expand outward, finding others to put faith in, AND encouraging more to be people worthy of that faith. The seven principles of Kwanzaa are celebrated once a year, but they are lamplights for the year to come. A chance to renew a determination to be our best selves. If not tomorrow, then the day afterward. If we fall, we get up. Imagine us with Unity. Determination. Willingness to take Responsibility for our Problems. To work together financially. To have a goal in mind, of greatness. The ability to find new ways toward our goal if the old ones fail. And to never stop believing in our selves.

Have a blessed and meaningful Kwanzaa.

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