Posted in Celebration, Holiday Celebration!!

Happy Black History Month!!

Today marks the first day of Black History Month 2023!!

This year’s theme as designed by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) is “Black Resistance”! Oh how appropriate!! As noted on the ASALH website:

African Americans have resisted historic and ongoing oppression, in all forms, especially the racial terrorism of lynching, racial pogroms, and police killings since our arrival upon these shores. These efforts have been to advocate for a dignified self-determined life in a just democratic society in the United States and beyond the United States political jurisdiction. The 1950s and 1970s in the United States was defined by actions such as sit-ins, boycotts, walk outs, strikes by Black people and white allies in the fight for justice against discrimination in all sectors of society from employment to education to housing. Black people have had to consistently push the United States to live up to its ideals of freedom, liberty, and justice for all. Systematic oppression has sought to negate much of the dreams of our griots, like Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, and our freedom fighters, like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Septima Clark, and Fannie Lou Hamer fought to realize. Black people have sought ways to nurture and protect Black lives, and for autonomy of their physical and intellectual bodies through armed resistance, voluntary emigration, nonviolence, education, literature, sports, media, and legislation/politics. Black led institutions and affiliations have lobbied, litigated, legislated, protested, and achieved success.

And to get your month started check out these few facts about the annual celebration of Black History Month!!

  • Black History Month recognizes All African American Experiences!!
  • Check out this video of the man behind this annual celebration, Carter G. Woodson:
  • Black History Month became nationally recognized officially in 1976
  • The United States and Canada celebrate Black history in February, while the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the Netherlands honor it during the month of October. 
  • Before it was established as a month long celebration, Black History Month Began as Negro History Week!
Photo by Katerina Holmes on Pexels.com
Posted in A Professor's Thoughts..., Holiday Celebration!!

Habari Gani?! Imani-Kwanzaa Day 7

Habari Gani, my friends?? What’s the good news?! Today is the final day of Kwanzaa and my favorite principle, Imani (Faith)!! Through Imani, we “believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

As a spiritual person this principle hits home for me as I am always trying to keep the faith!!
While, it may not be easy, faith – especially during difficult and trying times – brings us closer to making our dreams a reality.

None of the other 6 principles would be able to come to fruition without that mustard seed of faith!! Think about this in order to have cooperative economics, we must have faith in the businesses that we support.

To have purpose, we must have faith that we are here for a reason. It is essential that we have faith in ourselves, our leaders, teachers, parents and in the victory of our struggle. As a free, proud and productive people we can do ALL things with just a little bit of faith.

Faith is put forth as the last principle as unity is put forth as the first principle for a definite reason. It is to indicate that without unity, we cannot begin our most important work, but without faith we cannot sustain it. Unity brings us together and harnesses our strength, but faith in each other and the Good, the Right, the Beautiful inspires and sustains the coming together and the commitment to take the work to its end.

Allow yourself to let go of any worry and trust in your Black excellence!! Never lose faith in yourself and our community. Be proud of who you are and the community you live in!!

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Until next year, while Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26th-January 1st know that you can practice any and all of these principles year around! Remember Kwanzaa is a celebration of culture, community, and family!

Harambe and Happy New Year!!

Posted in A Professor's Thoughts..., Holiday Celebration!!

Habari Gani?! Kuumba-Kwanzaa Day 6

Habari Gani Good People?! What’s the good news?

Today we celebrate my second favorite principle Kuumba (Creativity), “to do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.” The principle has both a social and spiritual dimension and is deeply rooted in social and sacred teachings of African societies.

Having creativity requires a few things – motivation and inspiration! What I can definitely say with pride is my people practically ooze creativity, just look at social media, in the classrooms, on television…everyday all day!! The creative minds of Black folks have birthed ground-breaking inventions, culture-shaping entertainment and fashion and new ways of healing and uplifting the community.

Some ways to practice Kuumba, include taking part in a musical Kwanzaa celebration, painting a mural, starting a garden in your neighborhood, building a new app. Just know that you can create something new, whether it be a piece of art or simply a new idea.

On this day, it is also customary to host a large feast called Karamu, which can be held at home, a community center or a church. The menu usually features foods and ingredients native to the African continent such as yams, okra, tamarind, peanuts, collard greens and hibiscus.

Photo by Askar Abayev on Pexels.com

Think about this for a moment…What creative skills do you have that can help build your community? Maybe it’s something you do with your hands, maybe it’s writing a proposal, managing the books as an accountant or leading a team.

Posted in A Professor's Thoughts..., Holiday Celebration!!

Habari Gani?! Nia-Kwanzaa Day 5

Habari Gani?!! What’s today’s good news?

Today, we celebrate one of my favorite principals of Kwanzaa….Nia (Purpose). Through Nia, the principal seeks “to make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.”

Examine your ability to put your own skills and talent to use through service to your family and community at large. When we take time to reflect on our expectations from life, we can take the opportunity to discuss one’s desires and hopes with family and friends. On today, try to determine your purpose and how it will result in positive achievements for family and community.

In thinking about how you can reflect on Nia, consider these few practices:

  • Reflect on finding your purpose in life outside of your career
  • Add some books and movies that educate you about your ancestry and your history
  • Set short term and long term goals that will set you and your community on a path towards a more intentional and purpose-driven life.

What’s your purpose in life for today and in the future?

Posted in A Professor's Thoughts..., Holiday Celebration!!

Habari Gani?! Ujamaa-Kwanzaa Day 4

Habari Gani?! What’s the good news today?

On this day we celebrate Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics),to build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together. As noted on the official Kwanzaa website, Ujamaa embodies shared work and wealth, economic self-reliance, and obligation of generosity. Karenga notes, “To share wealth and work, then, is to share concern, care and responsibility for a new, more human and fulfilling future”.

Historically, Ujamaa was introduced as a socialist philosophy in Tanzania by its first president Julius Nyerere. Nyerere used “Ujamaa” as a revolutionary concept in the development of a national infrastructure centered on communal values. Everything from Black Wall Street to McKissack & McKissack to The Philadelphia Tribune to The National Business League proves that African-Americans have been resisting in the spirit of Ujamaa for centuries.

It’s about working together, making a change, and creating legacies!!

In that spirit, here are a few ways in which you can practice Ujamaa:

  • Organize a buying club in your neighborhood, housing co-op or apartment building.  Items such as laundry detergent, toilet paper, paper towels, socks, sanitizing wipes, water, and a variety of non-perishable goods can be purchased in bulk and the cost shared so that everyone gets these items cheaper than what they would pay buying them retail.
  • Support black and local and independent small businesses or businesspersons, cooperatives, artists, practitioners and others who are community- and environmentally-minded. 
  • Join a city and/or community garden in your local neighborhood
  • Shop at your local farmers’ markets (National Farmers Market Directory)
Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

As each of our families celebrate Kwanzaa and richness of African-American culture this year and every year, let us all find inspiration in the principle of Ujamaa in the development of a new global economy built through communal values and cooperatives.

Harambee!!  Let’s all work together!!

Posted in A Professor's Thoughts..., Holiday Celebration!!

Habari Gani?! Ujima-Kwanzaa Day 3

Habari Gani!! What’s the news today?! Ujima!!

On Day 3 of Kwanzaa we celebrate Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)!! This means “to build and maintain our community together and make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together.”

Today we recognize the fact that without collective work and struggle, progress is impossible and liberation is a far distant memory. This is when we must truly embody the idea of “it takes a village.”

On this day, I think about the impact of those that we lost this year who made such a great impact on our local, national, and global communities. Their commitments and efforts to the cause will never be forgotten. One can only hope that we continue to be inspired to follow in their footsteps and build on their legacies!

When thinking about how you can celebrate Ujima today, consider teaming up with members of your neighborhood to help renovate a community center, offering to shovel your neighbor’s sidewalk, or even just helping out around the house more often.

And as a way of sharing with my community, here is an event for all my native Richmond folks this coming Friday celebrating Kwanzaa!

Capital City Kwanzaa Festival

December 30th, 2022…. 5-10pm….Greater Richmond Convention Center

Celebrate the season with Elegba Folklore Society and the creator of Kwanzaa, Dr. Maulana Karenga, at one of the largest annual Kwanzaa events on the East Coast! Come to enjoy a cultural ceremony, performances, workshops, engagement for children, and an African market. 

Posted in A Professor's Thoughts..., Holiday Celebration!!, Resources

Habari Gani?!! Kujichagulia-Kwanzaa Day 2

Habari Gani!! What’s the news today?!

We have come to another day of Kwanzaa…The second principle of the Nguzo Saba is Kujichagulia which means Self-Determination!! To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.”

“In a time in which occupation and oppression of countries and peoples are immorally presented as necessary and even salvational, the principle of Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) rejects this and reaffirms the right of persons and peoples to determine their own destiny and daily lives; to live in peace and security; and to flourish in freedom everywhere.”-Dr. Maulana Karenga

Consider these three questions as you embody Kujichaguilia:

1.  Who am I?
2.  Am I really who I say I am?
3.  Am I all that I ought to be?

Have a conversation (with yourself, or with another person) about what truths you want to live into in this coming year. In addition, check out this video reflection from Dr. David Goode-Cross, as he shares the importance of making life decisions from a place of being grounded in our most authentic selves.

Once you begin to process and internalize the above questions/thoughts consider these few actions that you can do to celebrate Kujichaguilia:

  • Make the celebration focus on your family
  • Make the celebration festive and joyous
  • Try to have a special meal- at home or away

What I like about Kujichagulia is that it also has a personal meaning. As you reflect over this past year, can you identify ways that your self-determination paid off? How did you take more control over your life?

Remember to practice Self-Determination!!

Posted in A Professor's Thoughts..., Holiday Celebration!!, Resources

Habari Gani?!! It’s Kwanzaa Time!!

Habari Gani!! It’s that time of year again, a time to celebrate an annual tradition of family, community, and culture!! So you ask what time is it…It’s Kwanzaa Time (December 26-January 1)!!

Check out a little taste here in the documentary on Kwanzaa called “The Black Candle” (narrated by world renowned poet Maya Angelou and directed by award-winning author and filmmaker MK Asante):

You can watch the entire film here!!

During this holiday, families and communities “organize activities around the Nguzo Saba” (The Seven Principles):

  • Umoja (Unity)
  • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
  • Ujima (Collective Work & Responsibility)
  • Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
  • Nia (Purpose)
  • Kuumba (Creativity)
  • Imani (Faith)

In addition to the seven principles there are a total of nine symbols (in Swahili and English) that make up Kwanzaa:

  • Mazao (The Crops): These are symbolic of African harvest celebrations and of the rewards of productive and collective labor.
  • Mkeka (The Mat): This is symbolic of our tradition and history and therefore, the foundation on which we build.
  • Kinara (The Candle Holder): This is symbolic of our roots, our parent people — continental Africans.
  • Muhindi (The Corn): This is symbolic of our children and our future which they embody.
  • Kikombe cha Umoja (The Unity Cup): This is symbolic of the foundational principle and practice of unity which makes all else possible.
  • Mishumaa Saba (The Seven Candles): These are symbolic of the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles, the matrix and minimum set of values which African people are urged to live by in order to rescue and reconstruct their lives in their own image and according to their own needs.
  • Zawadi (The Gifts): These are symbolic of the labor and love of parents and the commitments made and kept by the children.
  • Bendera (The Flag): The colors of the Kwanzaa flag are colors of the Organization Us, black, red and green – black for the people, red for their struggle, and green for the future that comes from their struggle. The Bendera is based on the national flag given to us by the Hon. Marcus Garvey, with slight adjustments in order and interpretation of the colors made in the 1960s along with many African countries.
  • Nguzo Saba Poster: The Nguzo Saba poster or some form of the written Nguzo Saba should always be a part of the Kwanzaa set. For it is these Seven Principles which give Kwanzaa its core and seven days of cultural focus.

Each symbol “represents values and concepts reflective of African culture and contributive to community building and reinforcement.

This year’s theme is “Kwanzaa, Culture and the Practice of Freedom: A Message and Model For Our Times”!

During this Kwanzaa celebration I will share a little knowledge on each principle and what you can do to take part in this welcoming tradition!! So make sure you stay tuned!!

Today’s principle is UMOJA which means UNITY!! What are you doing today to strive and maintain unity in our families, communities, nations, and the world!! #UMOJA #Celebration #Affirmation

How you can embody UMOJA today is by being kind to your sisters and brothers in order to help keep your family and community strong and happy.

Ahhhh another one of my favorite times of the year!!

For more information check out the following links:

https://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/

https://nmaahc.si.edu/kwanzaa