Commentary: Happy Kwanzaa!

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Anthony L. Hall is a Bahamian who descends from the Turks and Caicos Islands. He is an international lawyer and political consultant - headquartered in Washington DC - who also publishes a current events weblog, The iPINIONS Journal, at http://ipjn.com

By Anthony L Hall

It’s a curious thing that so many black Americans – who insist on calling themselves African Americans – know so little about their American heritage, and even less about their African ancestry. But this is probably because “black pride” is about as ethereal and subjective as religious faith.

Martin Luther King Jr. taught us the objective value of judging people not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. In a similar vein, I humbly suggest that racial pride should be based not on the assumption of things unseen but on substance of deeds done.

It is in this spirit of racial enlightenment that I celebrate Kwanzaa (December 26 to January 1).

In so doing, I pay homage to the Afrocentric Dr Maulana Kerenga who founded this holiday in 1966 “not to substitute for Christmas” but to reaffirm what it is to be of African ancestry.

More important, though, if all black people endeavored to live according to the seven guiding principles (Nguzo Saba) of Kwanzaa, then having black pride would entail far more than spouting off hollow rhetoric:

  1. Umoja: (oo-MO-jah) Unity stresses the importance of togetherness for the family and the community, which is reflected in the African saying, “I am We” or “I am because We are.”
  2. Kujichagulia: (koo-gee-cha-goo-LEE-yah) Self-determination requires that we define our common interests and make decisions that are in the best interest of our family and community.
  3. Ujima: (oo-GEE-mah) Collective Work and Responsibility remind us of our obligation to the past, present, and future, and that we have a role to play in the community, society, and world.
  4. Ujamaa (oo-JAH-mah) Cooperative economics emphasizes our collective economic strength and encourages us to meet common needs through mutual support.
  5. Nia (NEE-yah) Purpose encourages us to look within ourselves and to set personal goals that are beneficial to the community.
  6. Kuumba (koo-OOM-bah) Creativity makes use of our creative energies to build and maintain a strong and vibrant community.
  7. Imani (ee-MAH-nee) Faith focuses on honoring the best of our traditions, draws upon the best in ourselves, and helps us strive for a higher level of life for humankind, by affirming our self-worth and confidence in our ability to succeed and triumph in righteous struggle.

In fact, with these guiding principles, blacks should begin celebrating Kwanzaa the way Jews celebrate Hanukkah.

Happy Kwanzaa!

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I personally long for the day when the term “African American” is no longer used but rather that we are all Americans. I am personally from French descent and do not refer to myself as “Franco American”, nor do we refer to people of Italian descent as “Italian Americans. It’s time for the melting pot to reach the temperature of where we are all one. We were doing fine and getting there until Barack Obama came along and once again stirred that melting pot into a caldron of hate and division. I have family members who have married people of color and we do not consider them to be African or Native American or Hispanic or anything other than family. Isn’t time for the Black Community to drop all the special groups, holidays, organizations etc. that celebrate their Black heritage and become part of the melting pot that we call mainstream America.

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