Now Is The Perfect Time To Recommit To Saving Our Communities

Ron Karenga Kwanzaa/ApavloWikimedia/public domain

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This article is part three of PushBlack’s seven-day Kwanzaa series. If you missed yesterday’s article, click here to check it out.

Today is the third day of Kwanzaa! The principle we recognize on this day is Ujima, or collective work and responsibility. The purpose of this principle is to build and maintain our community together, to make our sister’s and brother's problems our own problems, and to solve those problems together.

Ujima teaches us that being Black is not only an identity, it is a responsibility. We are responsible for each other.

Our neighborhoods are struggling, our businesses don’t have the support they need, and the schools we send our children to are failing them. Since we are not the dominant group in America, none of these challenges are our fault.

Traditionally, we have been encouraged to look outside of our communities for solutions to these problems. But, history has taught us how we can easily lose the progress we’ve made depending on who is elected to public office. For example, the land granted to Blacks then taken away during after the Civil War, threats to repeal Obamacare, the constant threat to our voting rights, and the destruction of Black Wall Street.

Although we can appeal to the government to fix certain issues (mass incarceration, police brutality, workplace discrimination, etc.), it is important that we look to the wealth of talent in our own communities to create long lasting solutions to other issues.

If the schools we send our children to are failing them, then we must build schools that work. If the stores we shop at discriminate against us, then we must support businesses who have an interest in our community.

Yes, some solutions are easier said than done. For example, it is quite difficult to start a new neighborhood school. However, it is not as difficult to open up our homes to host an afterschool program for kids in the neighborhood, then seek funding within our community to expand that program.

Ujima teaches us that individual gains mean nothing if the rest of the community is struggling. For those in the community with college degrees, we must ask how those degrees are being used to lift our family up. For those of us who own businesses, how are those businesses providing jobs to the Black community?

In 2017, the mainstream media finally covered the rise of slavery in Libya that resulted from the U.S.’s intervention in 2011. For those of us in America, who were only recently acknowledged as free people, this event should be a call to arms. We shouldn’t wait for a non-Black “human rights” organization to solve this problem.

“As long as any African anywhere is oppressed, exploited, enslaved, or wounded in any way in her or his humanity, all African people are.” - Maulana Karenga, creator of Kwanzaa.

On day one, Umoja taught us to unite. On day two, Kujichagulia taught us to practice self determination. Now, on day 3, we must utilize our unity and determination to identify common interests and develop solutions. We must all engage in struggle until every one of us is free. Ujima!

For more info about Kwanzaa, check out “The African American Holiday of Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community, and Culture.”

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