Tag Archives: Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa Principles 1-3

I’m late. I wanted to post the seven Kwanzaa principles, aka Nguzo Saba for each day they’re recognized then give my own story, impression or thoughts. Well, Kwanzaa started this past weekend. Shame, I can’t even do an African-American celebration correctly. Blame CPT. So today I’ll post the first three principles and follow up daily with the rest.

– Umoja (Unity) To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
The family huh? I don’t think I’m striving to maintain unity in my family. I’ve pretty much charged that one to the game and put it in the lost cause bin. I just don’t feel that I have the strength to run after grown-ups who can’t get their lives together. I am striving for unity in my own family, however, whenever I start one. Unity in the community… I certainly don’t do as much here as I would like. I always see opportunities to get involved but decide I just don’t have the time. Being new to this particular neighborhood doesn’t help either, as I don’t feel connected enough to really strive for or maintain unity here. Nation… oh boy. Is that ever going to happen? Call me apathetic but I just can’t. That task seems too large. Finally, the race. Omigod. I love Black people so much. I would never want to trade places with anyone. But we’ve got issues that go way before anyone I’ve ever met and will continue on and on. It’s not a failure particular to Black folks… it’s just human nature I suppose. All in all, I suck when it comes to Umoja.

– Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
Hard to say, even harder to do. Kujichagulia is definitely on my to-do list. I think this is what I’ve been striving for my whole life… to find out who I really am and what I’m supposed to do. A big part of that is taking initiative and making decisions instead of waiting for someone to tell me who I am. This is sort of why I want to work on a vision board, so I can de-clutter my brain, visualize the things I want and claim them for myself.

– Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility) To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems, and to solve them together.
Wow. Um, I don’t know. This is a great principle because we live in a world where individualism is so exalted that people go so far as to forget about one another and credit all of their successes to themselves. We need to practice more collective responsibility and work together. Not going to happen, however. I’m sorry I sound so cynical about all of this but it’s true, right? I think we can work together on a small scale: families, social groups, committees, neighborhoods, etc. But as a society, a culture or a race? Poppycock. Again, that’s not just a Black thing, it’s an American thing or a Capitalist thing or even a Democratic thing. So what can I do to recognize Ujima in my life? I’m going to focus on the smaller groups and make it work there.

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Kwanzaa

How do you feel about Kwanzaa?  I have never celebrated Kwanzaa. I don’t think my family knew much about it and frankly, they didn’t care. I learned about it in my after school programs that were run by afrocentric staff. I mean, we did a mini rites of passage thing one summer, so you know they were on their Kwanzaa game.

Clicking around the internet, I see that a lot of people dismiss Kwanzaa as the “Black Christmas” or they hate on it because it was invented. Well, ALL holidays are invented. Shoot, I just watched a documentary on Christmas and saw how monarchies, governments and religious powers all shaped Christmas celebrations to suit particular needs. Jesus wasn’t even born anywhere near Dec. 25th! President’s Day was certainly “invented” so I don’t get trashing Kwanzaa because it was invented.

That Black Christmas thing, well that’s just false. However, I think it ‘s how most people view Kwanzaa and therefore do not take a closer look at what the holiday has to offer.  Continue reading

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