For the last 18 years I've celebrated Kwanzaa with family and friends. Our local alumni celebration grew to the largest in the Miami area. There have been some really great times throughout the years. The objective was to see the project grow in number of people who attended and participated. We also wanted to witness the manifestation of the result of practicing the Nguzo Saba (Seven Principles) in the local community.
Unfortunately, my mom, who has been the chairperson of the vent has fallen ill this year and Miami-Dade County continues to reduce its level of support and we will not be able to present the community celebration as we had in the past.
Initially I was extremely disappointed in this. I racked my brain trying to figure out how to make it work short of coming up with the money but time was running out and we really should not be required to go through such drama considering the monies the County has squandered on projects that were to benefit the community. Then it dawned on me a break was really needed.
It is time for us to really develop a plan so that we live Kwanzaa rather than celebrate for a week and then go about our either practices that are either non-productive or downright destructive. The second we must do is draft a long-range plan that is much less dependent upon the County. That is really what Kwanzaa is about anyway. It's time to keep the focus of Kwanzaa before the people year-round.
Some people still don't get Kwanzaa. There is a perception that it is anti-Christmas; I've even had some folks say it's satanic. Hmmm. There are people that point to Karenga's incarceration for torture and imprisonment of women from the US organization.
Kwanzaa is not satanic and it's not anti-Christmas. We celebrate Christmas and Kwanzaa. There is a non-religious, non-political requirement to Kwanzaa and that may be what throws some folk off. I won't get into the whole commercialization of Christmas because I think many already get that. Christmas, as we know it, has far too little to do with the birth of Jesus Christ. In my humble opinion, Kwanzaa is becoming commercialized also but I'll leave that for another post.
Kwanzaa encourages careful consideration of gifts given to children. Books and other items that will expand their academic and cultural horizon are strongly encouraged. Kwanzaa also encourages family bonding, love and respect for one another. Kwanzaa recognizes that family members frequently have different religious beliefs. I know those different beliefs have been the root of awkwardness for many my own family's celebrations. Through pure Kwanzaa practices, we can celebrate together. Now, for Kwanzaa creator Maulana 'Ron' Karenga's criminal past, I don't ignore it but I also don't see the wisdom in ignoring the positive messages of Kwanzaa because of one person.
So, how exactly do I plan to live Kwanzaa?
For starters, I'm going to patronize a black-owned business at least once per week. Even if the product or service is cheaper at another store, I will support black business so that we build, maintain and profit from our own stores.
Through my blogs, I'll share information that will benefit the collective and encourage exchange of ideas about community issues and possible resolution. Knowledge is power and we often have a better solution for our community problems than those elected or selected to resolve them. More important will be the use of my blog to recognize young people who excel academically, demonstrate entrepreneurial skills or give back to the community.
My 2008 will be about action, staying positive and developing future leaders. Peace.
Define Yourself - Think for Yourself - Do for Yourself