The principles of Kwanzaa

A lot of us try and live up to what we want to be versus what we are in our everyday life. This includes me, as I yearn to be a better person, daily. Sometimes hourly. Self-actualization is high on my list of personal goals.

2020 has brought about some serious alone time to reflect on who I am versus who I want to be. Those two things aren’t in complete alignment yet. My pursuit of self-actualization is never ending.

The one thing that I am is an unapologetic, unashamed Black American. As I get older I am deeply proud of who I am, where I come from, and my achievements.

I am nothing without the Black Americans who are descendants of American Chattel Slaves who have come before me. The teachers who saw my potential. The counselors and program directors who created opportunities for me to learn something new. The countless Black American Moms and Dads who made phone calls and open doors for me. My parents who didn’t have much but tried their hardest to provide for me and pour their empirical wisdom into me before I went out into the world. So many Black American people made sure I succeeded in a system that was designed to marginalize my humanity. Please know I am nothing without those Black people who cleared my path. Everything I am, I owe to them.

So my charge is to be better. To never stop learning. To put kindness back into the universe. To pour love, wisdom, and light into the generation coming up behind me. I am determined to pay forward all the love and kindness that sustains me.

And so in these times of reflection, I think about the seven principles of Kwanzaa. I think about do I embody any of these principles and what can I do to incorporate them into my life, daily.

It is my hope that when you see me next, when you sit down and chat with me, there will be examples of these seven principles in my words, but definitely in my actions.


The seven principles of Kwanzaa:

Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define and name ourselves, as well as to create and speak for ourselves.

Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and to solve them together.

Ujamaa (Cooperative economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.

Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

Kuumba (Creativity): To do always 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.