Kwanzaa was founded in 1966 by Maulana Karenga. Because it falls so close to the holidays, many believe that it has a religious connotation but it is actually a celebration of African Americans and their heritage.
The word “Kwanzaa” means “first fruit from the harvest”.
As I sat down to write my 2016 goals for the New Year, I thought how appropriate it would be to incorporate the 7 principles of Kwanzaa into my daily practices all year round.
1. Umoja: “Unity”. The best way I can sum up this word is by the African Proverb:
” If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”.
Umoja is one of the most important principles of Kwanzaa because it is the basic foundation for all of the other principles. In order to successfully accomplish anything else, we must be united.
Goals for 2016:
- Grow my business
- Build my family
Umoja applies to these aspects of my goal list as such:
Growing my business: Black Moms Blog has grown successfully because of my partnership with other small businesses. It is so important to use this blog as a voice for other Black owned businesses and in turn, those businesses doing the same for me. We are holding a united front in making sure we are helping each other get ahead.
Building my family: Society will try to teach you that you can successfully have a family while each person goes by their own principles and standards. That ideology may work for a couple of years but eventually your family will start to lose connection. It is important to stay connected with your family by being united in your standards, beliefs, and moral grounds.
Ask yourself: How does the principle of Umoja play into your life?
2. Kujichagulia:“Self Determination”. At the beginning of every year, we have these goals and lists for things we want to accomplish. By the middle of January, we have already cheated on our diets and stopped going to the gym.
Goal for 2016:
- Work out three times a week
It is so easy to get swept up in the hype. Then something happens and instead of going to the gym, you are taking a nap. Before you know it, it has been two weeks and you have fallen so far behind on your goal to stay in shape you give it up and decide to try again in 2017. The way to overcome this battle is by applying the principle of Kujichagulia. We have to remain self determined. If you believe in yourself, there is nothing that can shake your goals.
Ask yourself: What are some ways to make sure you encourage yourself to stick to your goals for 2016?
3. Ujima: “Collective Work and Responsibility”. This is basic accountability. Let’s say you are on your goal of working out three times a week but know you may need some help in fullfilling this. What can you do? You can apply the principle of Ujima and find an accountability partner. An accountability partner is someone who has the same goal as you where you both can check in on each other for encouragement and motivation. Just because you are self determined, does not mean you cannot ask for help.
Ask yourself: Who can I call to be an accountability partner?
4. Ujamaa: “Cooperative Economics”. We have all seen the hashtag #supportblackbusiness. Now it is time to bring that into fruition. Sometimes I struggle with seeing some things as discriminatory and see them more as lack of economics. Black people had $1.1 trillion buying power in 2015 according to a recent study by Nieslen and Essence but spend less money on Black owned business than any other racial group according to the New York Times.
Goal for 2016:
- Support Black Owned Businesses
This is an easy one. Next time you purchase a gift for a friend or family member, look online or visit your nearest Black owned business and purchase from them instead of a major corporation. Not only are you supporting your culture but when you support small business, you are helping a business owner support their family instead of contributing to Michael Jordan’s infinite bank account. No offense MJ, but you have had enough.
Ask yourself: What do I have around my house that I can purchase from a black owned business instead of Walmart?
5. Nia: “Purpose”. This is simply the act of building up our community to restore our people to their traditional greatness. Most of our goal list for 2016 will include ways to make ourselves better but I hope that some part of it includes how we can be a helping hand to our neighbors.
Goal for 2016:
- Volunteer at least 10 hours a month
Look into some of your local non profits to see if you can help someone in need. Become a big brother or sister. Make care packages for the homeless. Once a month, make a committment to buying a meal for someone in need.
Ask yourself: What is my purpose outside of myself?
6. Kuumba: “Creativity”. This principle encourages us to do as much as we can in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than when we inherited it. This is my most favorite principle. Why? Because no one’s answer for this will be the same. We are all entrusted with a special talent or gift. As Mos Def says, “Let your light shine on the world”. I take the principle of Kuumba as an overall way of saying, be bright and positive. You are a gift to everyone that you meet. Even moreso, find ways to unleash your creativity.
Goal for 2016:
- Pick up an extracurricular activity
Have you always had an interest learning how to paint? Even though your schedule may be packed between work and family, find the time to put aside to invest in yourself and your creativity.
Ask yourself: What has sparked my creative interest in 2015 that I can take into 2016?
7. Imani: “Faith”. This principle tells us to trust in ourselves, our parents, our ancestors, our teachers, leaders, and make progress while overcoming adversity. For me, Imani means to stay steadfast in my belief of God. To remember that when I am struggling, He has my best interest in mind and is giving me the proper tools to handle difficult situations.
Goal for 2016:
- Meditate for 30 minutes a day
Whatever your connecting power is to your higher power, DO IT! It makes such a difference. Meditating, praying, finding your quiet peace- which ever name you choose for it, find a way to connect your faith.
Ask yourself: How can I use faith to respond to difficult situations?