Kwanzaa is a time to clasp hands with family and community, and recommit to the values that make life better for all of us. The Nguzo Saba, Swahili for “Seven Principles,” encourages contemplative reflection as we enter the final days of the year, culminating on New Year’s Day. Fittingly, Umoja (Unity) is day 1 of the Nguzo Saba, as nothing can be done, in the world, without Umoja. Kujichagulia (Self Determination) is the focus of day 2, which encourages us to realize we can mold and shape the world around us, rather than wait for others to do so. Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), day 3, points to us building and maintaining our community together, making our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems as we work together to solve them. Day 4 Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics) encourages Black-on-Black business initiatives that will create jobs for our children and community. Day 5, Nia (Purpose) is to make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their rightful greatness. Day 6, Kuumba (Creativity) is to do all we can, in any way we can, to make our community better and more beautiful and beneficial than the way we inherited it. Lastly, day 7 is Imani (Faith), which encourages us to believe with all our hearts in the greatness of our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and ultimate victory of our struggle. The red, black, and green bendera (flag) represents red, the blood of the people; black, the people; and green, the color of life. The seven candles in the kinara symbolizes the seven principles (the Nguzo Saba).
Some proponents of Kwanzaa encourage fasting and prayer as a part of Imani on the final day, while others encourage fasting and prayer throughout the Kwanzaa observance.
A malt liquor can, police tape, a Newport cigarette box, and a Popeyes chicken container on a Christmas tree would have unsettled me had I walked into the Fourth Precinct police station, in Minneapolis, needing help. This is the infamous station where Black Lives Matter activists staged a weeks-long protest following the Jamar Clark police shooting verdict three years ago.
Kudos to Mayor Jacob Frey and Police Chief Arrandondo for quickly reprimanding the officers responsible for what has been called "dog whistle" racism, a tactic where the words are not blatantly spoken, but the callousness of the imagery hearkens back to Jim Crow.
I've been urging Minnesota leaders, and the nation, of the need to merge the full Black history with world history, which will go a long way in mitigating the institutional racism that informs cops like the offending officers.
According to Miski Noor, a Black Lives Matter organizer, in a Daily Planet article following the Jamar Clark protest, "The Fourth Precinct used to be a community center called 'The Way.' It was this space of Black Revolutionary love, they were doing the same work we're dong now, trying to build a better world... ."