KWANZAA: DAY 1, UMOJA

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“Community involvement.”


Yesterday was day one of the celebration Kwanzaa. Day one focuses on Umoja, which is the community, familial, and ethnic unity. For those of you that don’t know what Kwanzaa is as a holiday, it was created back in the late 1960’s as a celebration to acknowledge those of African heritage. There are seven core principles, and yesterday was the day of that principle Umoja. And if you are African American, what does Umoja mean to you? I grew up in a predominantly African American family, but we celebrated Christmas my whole life. Now that I am an adult, I more and more lean toward the celebration of Kwanzaa. One of the reasons is because of the capitalist view of the holiday that is Christmas. But that is just a small aspect of the Christmas holiday. A second reason is that when you come from such a dismantled community, a holiday celebrating the uplifting of you becomes quite important.

And what I have noticed about the holiday is that it has grown year by year in popularity. More people are joining and leaving Christmas in greater numbers. Because of what it promotes, which brings me to day one. The community, family, and ethnic group’s togetherness. Nothing else in America is designed to uplift Black people. So with an introduction of Kwanzaa, it becomes very special. Bringing together friends and family, members of the community, working on a common core belief. And that belief is to take care of the people around you. Not just the ones who you share a kinship with, but the ones who live right next door. And with so much fragmentation, who could blame anyone for not wanting to take part in the festivities.

Day one is very important, if not the most important day because without that close bind between friends, family, and community, it becomes impossible to have the other six days that lead up to the last day. So I say Umoja, build relationships and get o know those around you. As well as strengthen the ties of kinship that already exist.


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PULLING YOUR WEIGHT: WHY FAMILY IS MORE THAN JUST BLOOD

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“It’s all our job to pitch in.”


My grandmother grew up in the south and she used to tell me about how she at an early age had to be a farm hand. Not just her, but any siblings that were born during that time and old enough to work. Why did they have to work the farm, besides being told in her time period they had no choice, aiding the family. Everyone had to play a vital role in helping to move this family. It wasn’t one person had to work and everyone else kind of lived off of their hard work. But a lot has changed during that time period. Because my grandmother was born in the early 1930’s right after the Great Depression hit. So everyone really had to put their best foot forward. This was the all-encompassing group known as the Silent Generation where everyone just kept their mouths closed and did as they were told: work.

Some like to think that the introduction of the welfare system is what kind of made people remove themselves from the mind-frame of everyone pitching into the family. Because what was supposed to be a small contribution to help you get on your feet, has turned into a crutch. The thought process of something for nothing took hold. And the entire concept of family pulling their weight began to diminish. People in today’s society have this thought that just because we are related by blood that means something. Yet even in a family, you have to earn just as much as everyone else. If one person is contributing and that contribution ever gets lost, then the entire house falls down. So you need more people putting into the pot for the pot to sustain.

Because the core meaning of family is more centralized to just your parents and siblings. Then you have your overall family which consists of aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. And last, you have the distant family members which are those you never see except once every so few years. But your first and foremost obligation is to your immediate family which is your spouse and children. This is the unit that receives the most attention and the most aid first. So you have to make sure everyone in this unit is doing their job, then look outward to the rest of family. But in the end, everyone must pull their weight. There can’t be one person working and everyone else kid of laid back on the sidelines. Because once it gets to that point, people have lost all respect for you and it comes too easy. And that’s when you either tell them to change or cut ties.


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