Nia – (Purpose)

This fifth night we lit a candle of hope for, Nia. 

With so much in this world, directly and indirectly affecting us and humanity as a whole, it is vital we understand our purpose. 

“When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.” – Martin Niemöller

My purpose is to SPEAK OUT when I see wrong. For if I do not speak for my brothers and sisters, my children, I am left alone and become equal to no one. I firmly stand for together we can because eventually the people in power, who are continually abusing their power, will be abolished. As the poem and history show, the word evolution, is a bit exaggerated.

Even so, I must have hope for this… My purpose to make a difference in as many lives as possible. This is why I am an educator. Especially, for those future students of mine who are in desperate need of a guiding hand. My purpose is not only to teach inside the class, but make their world, their classroom where they can grow and learn to battle the many obstacles we face in this world.

What is your purpose?

Ujamaa

  
Happy Kwanzaa everyone! The fourth celebrated principle was Ujamaa! 

We reflected on the stores we shop at and plan to shop in. We even thought of our future goals of a business. It’s been really interesting listening to my bestfriend share thoughts that he has never before mentioned. Yay to Kwanzaa🌞   

  
Tonight’s post will be short because I have an early start tomorrow, good night to all. 

Xo 

Ujima

The third principle is, Ujima : Collective work and responsibility, “To build and maintain our community together and to make our brother’s and sister’s, our problems and to solve them together.”

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As you can see we added to our fruits of the harvest, another mango, more bananas and an avocado. No particular reason, we  just thought as the new year is coming we must give thanks for our good fortunes and health, by adding more fruit. I learned today what to do with our unity cup or KIKOMBE CHA UMOJA. At the beginning of the Kwanzaa celebration we pour the unity cup into the earth or an earth-filled vessel. While pouring, the elder of the family makes a statement honoring departed family members for the inspiration and values they have left with descendants. Friends are also remembered.

I am looking forward to incorporating this into our daily ceremony, we have also decided to our lighting ceremony before we eat dinner each day, tradition in the making…

Today was a beautiful day of reflection on our collective work and responsibility. Ujima is based on a fundamental assumption that African is not just an identity but also a destiny and duty. We are collectively responsible for our failures and setbacks as well as our victories and achievements.  To do this task successfully requires us to partake in self-criticism and self-correction.

We reflected we discussed personal collective work in our families and how we can help others make their problems ours. We realized this past year we have certainly taken part in this and we reflected on our past and current actions. We believe that we can help by sharing the principals and the celebration with my boyfriend’s family. As I type this blog, my boyfriend is sharing with his Pops the past three days and all that we have learned about our new adoption of Kwanzaa. We love how it is an embodiment of how we should live our lives daily. Reflecting on our responsibility to the community as young adults allowed me personally to think about what I am doing with EACH action I take. If they are helping only myself, or all those around me, my future students and all those that I will encounter on my journey…until tomorrow bloggers.

Habari gani?

Ujima ¤

Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)-Our 2nd day of Kwanzaa!

Habari gani bloggers?! 

Now you say–Kujichaguila! 

Today’s principle is self determination or the Swahili word, “Kujichagula,” which reminds us to define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.

We went to the American Museum of Natural History for the Kwanzaa celebration and we were able to hear Doug E Fresh speak to a large audience about the 7 principles of Kwanzaa. The highlight of our afternoon was watching the award-winning filmmaker MK Asante introduce his movie The Black Candle: A Kwanzaa Celebration. 

After the heart touching, enlightening and inspiring film, MK Asante followed it with a musical tribute to the film’s narrator, Dr. Maya Angelou. In the film we learned about some history behind Kwanzaa, how Kwanzaa made families and neighbors even stronger during Hurricane Katrina and how many are not even aware of what Kwanzaa is and why we should celebrate it. As Black people, we deserve to celebrate ourselves, our struggle and strength. I loved learning that people all over the world including Africa celebrate Kwanzaa, even though it was created in the USA. I highly recommend that you watch his film, if you have not already!

Below is part of his musical tribute, with the feature of Dr. Maya Angelou.

Visiting the museum’s Kwanzaa celebration was really exciting for my boyfriend and I, when we left, he stated, “I definitely want to celebrate it every year and share it with more people.” I agreed and felt super content that I decided to bring it to our home.

At the end of the show, MK Asante was signing books and movies, so we decided to also purchase his book It’s Bigger Than Hip Hop, that he teaches in his class at Morgan State University. We are really looking forward to reading it and I will eventually write a book review of it here.

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The great experience really left us thinking about how we can become stronger activists and better people for ourselves and world around us. Tonight, we lit the red candle to the far left and discussed self determination. We made goals for the new year and reflected on this past year, with our kujichaguila in mind. Kujichaguila is so important for us because many have tried to erase our history, rewrite our past or simply leave out our being. We are here to unite, connect, reconstruct and write the stories of our futures. We are a strong people who will not let our oppressors leave us invisible, we will conquer and deconstruct the many deficit views that have been internalized by many including ourselves. Yes we can self-oppress, but we must be determined to love ourselves and make our communities. Like Dr. Angelou stated, we must come out of the shadows of irrational prejudice, we owe no racial debt to history, we are the best, we are all we have…

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#HappyKwanzaa!

**We also discussed how next year we are definitely getting our wooden Kinara yay, and a wooden unity cup 🙂

 

Happy First Day of Kwanzaa!!

Hello all! Today is the first day of Kwanzaa!! The journey begins…

FullSizeRender-5Tonight we lit the black candle that represents the people that trace their heritage to Africa .  First, I asked my boyfriend “Habari Gani?” which is Swahili for, what’s the news? He answered, “umoja,” and then shared a relfection. Then, it was my turn and his cousin was over so he also shared in the celebration. My boyfriend and I reflected on what unity meant to us and what we can do in our community to promote more unity. This was a difficult question for my boyfriend and I. We ended up reflecting for almost an hour. We live in a pretty broken down community that can easily push one to give up hope because of how our neighbors treat others and what we see on our block. We came down to the conclusion that we will focus on creating unity in our own family and let our positivity extend to those we encounter daily. We always make time to greet the bus driver, store clerks, etc in our community and we will continue to do so. Little things like this will allow us to not convert to an individualistic state of mind.

If you didn’t know the day 1 principle is‪#‎UMOJA‬ (OO-MOE-JAH) it means unity to strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation and human race. Our action is to build a community that holds together.

The seven candles are called Mishumaa Saba, which represent the Nguzo Saba (each of the 7 principles). The red candles represent our peoples’ struggle and the green candles represent hope.

Since my boyfriend and I don’t have children the two ears of corn(‪#‎muhindi‬) represent the children of the community, the ‪#‎mazao fruit/crops-represents the communities’ productivity. 

I made a #homemade #Kinara, which is the candle holder. I could not afford a wooden, traditional one and I went to over 15 stores to put this together!! It was so difficult finding green taper candles and impossible to find a black taper candle! Therefore, I used the candle pictured above. My hope (green) candles were shorter than my struggle (red) candles, so I found taller candle holders. I think it came out wonderful! It only cost me $20 to put it together 🙂 I strongly suggest if you cannot afford a Kinara, make one yourself.

Since I could not find a straw mat, I used a yellow and red ribbon to represent the Mkeka (or mat) which is symbolic of our tradition and history and therefore, the foundation on which we build. In addition, the Kikombe cha Umoja (The Unity Cup) is symbolic of the foundational principle and practice of unity which makes all else possible, is not displayed. I will upload it in the next blog when I light our next candle 🙂

Have an amazing evening and #HAPPY KWANZAA!!

***(I found a lot of info from officialkwanzaawebsite.org and kwanzaalights.com***

 

 

Our first Kwanzaa! & Why we should celebrate it!

Dear bloggers,

I have happily convinced my boyfriend that this year we should celebrate Kwanzaa! He and I are not religious, we believe in a higher power and the universe’s energy.

In addition, we both descend from the African diaspora and strongly identify with Black culture. We also identify with Puerto Rican culture and the Spanish language, but first and formost we feel we are Black and we are proud of our mixed heritages. (His father is Jamaican and Panamanian. His mother is Puerto Rican. As for me, my mother is Puerto Rican and my biological father is Black and Puerto Rican). Also a fun fact about our Puerto Ricanness is that our Spanish is mixed with African tongues as we are mixed of Taíno, African and European blood! IMG_3089

(Shamik and I at Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, NY: Summer 2015)

Yes, you get it we are Black and we are PROUD!

So we definitely did not care to celebrate Christmas, but I thought about Kwanzaa and wanted to understand what it really meant. I did my research and decided we must celebrate our African heritage.

  • Kwanzaa CELEBRATES and HONORS our African heritage. 
  • Anyone can celebrate it, no matter their religion or if they are non-religious!
  • It celebrates 7 principles (Nguzo Saba ) that we should carry out all year round
  •  Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa is dedicated to one of the following principles(which are written in Swahili and English, as follows: (These are written to my understanding)

    • Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in our families, communities, and the human race.
    • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
    • Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together by making our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems, and then to solve them together.
    • Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together. This is a must!
    • Nia (Purpose): To make our collective careers the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
    • Kuumba (Creativity): To always do as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
    • Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

    These are all values that we should always practice and not only commemorate the week of Kwanzaa, December 26-January 1st, but it is such an awesome, uniting reminder!

    To continue, hopefully tonight we will go out to buy supplies to make our Kinara (candle holder) because we are college students on a budget!

    Please follow me on our journey of our first Kwanzaa! I will be posting each time I prepare or have a thought about preparation. I will also post how to celebrate it as I prepare. Remember it is my first year and I am learning as we go 😉

    There are 20 days until Kwanzaa and I am ecstatic!

  • Feel free to leave comments or suggestions to make our first Kwanzaa super special!!
  • Your thoughts matter 🙂