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Tuesday

7 Days of Holiday Blogging: Kujichagulia



I told you yesterday this moment would come so, are you ready? Lets try it out.

Habari Gani?
Now you say...
Kujichagulia, Habari Gani?

Excellent.

It's Day 2 of our 7 day celebration of the fruits of labor this year; with Kwanzaa meaning first fruits & all. Today's principle is 1 that we can all get with: the concept of "do you." This isn't a random "do you," however. See, Kujichagulia is defined specifically as self-determination.
To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves, instead of being defined, named, and spoken for by others.

As a little girl, on this particular morning, my sister & I would get up & come to the table with our mouths open like little birds waiting for the worm. As we waited to be fed 1 or both of our parents would greet us & we would respond in kind with "Kujichagulia." We'd listen to or recite the meaning with them, & then they'd ask us what it meant to us. Clearly as a small child, it was mostly about what I wanted to be when I grew up. We were able to articulate the importance of not allowing others to govern our paths, decide our futures.

This message is especially crucial to me right now as I try to figure out, still, what I want to be when I grow up, but more importantly because I work with children...who often haven't the faintest idea what they want to be or what's even possible. I've told this story or parts of it in here before, I do believe, but I'll share it again because it's relevant.

When I was just shy of 4 years old I saw my little sister born at home. It was the most incredible thing my bug eyes had ever witnessed & I decided then & there that I too was going to deliver babies like the incredible midwives who were there with my mother. Unbeknownst to me it would involve gynecology, which I rebuked as an option, so I had to move on in my head to other things. At 12 I became the unofficial counselor to my friends & decided that child psychology was the way to go. Along the way I wanted to be a model, a female dj, a social worker, a dancer, & summostuff. While I was seemingly all over the place with my goals, the point is that I had interests that helped me pinpoint directions I may have gone in. The children I come in contact with, when asked what they like/like to do/wanna be/etc always respond with the same answer: "I'onknow." This isn't entirely their fault. Some of them have parents who don't talk to them or expose them to anything & the THINGS they've been given don't really expand their mind or hip them to their possibilities.

& that, folks, scares the shit out of me. How will these children eventually define themselves? Because we all do at some point. For my Kwanzaa-haters out there, this is where I help you understand the value of the Nguzo Saba or the 7 principles of Kwanzaa. Crazy thing is, the principles are designed to be a way of life. They serve as reminders for how we can live positively with self, as well as others. Now that a lot of children don't attend church to receive Christian values, it is still necessary for children to be given some kind of guidance, a code to live by. The Nguzo Saba is all about leading by example though, & no one represents the 7 principles better than children who've been taught them.

This day would be about reflection. We'd spend most of it, if not all of it, at home with family. We'd assess what our own goals are & discuss them openly, even write about them & then shared. This would be a day of decision-making for the coming year: who will I be? How will I contribute? By the time the candles were lit--black for Umoja & the 1st red candle for Kujichagulia--I/we'd need to be able to articulate what we'd come up with. & by extension we would also have read about & presented some person in our history who had done something positive for his or her people. Black people. & by extension, all people.

See...through the celebration of Kwanzaa we are steeped in positivity & the necessity of perpetuating the best of who we are individually & collectively. It's bigger than lights & tree trimming. It's in addition to whatever else you believe in, no matter your religious affiliation. It is not a replacement. It is not a bootleg version of anything. It is not substituting rice for potatoes. It is reveling in the beauty of Black people & sharing that beauty with everyone. Our PR in the U.S. & around the world may lead some of you to believe that we ain't working with much. Head to a Kwanzaa celebration & see just how much. & on your way there, consider how you define yourself & if perhaps your definition could use an edit.

Furaha Kwanzaa (Happy Kwanzaa)!!

Watch me move.


Now, check out a friend & some of the children I know & love & their contribution to your education this holiday season.

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