This One Word Will Help You Change The World

Kwanzaa Principles/Advocacy ProjectFlickr/CC-NC-SA-2.0


Umoja is the principle we recognize on the first day of Kwanzaa. On this day, we practice and pledge unity with our family, friends, the Black American community, and the entire African diaspora across the globe. Most of us currently understand the holiday season as a time to come together with family and friends. However, unity in Kwanzaa takes it a step further.

The principle of Umoja emphasizes harmonious togetherness; not just with our families, but with the entire Black community. Although the current society we live in preaches individualism, Blacks in Africa, before slavery and colonialism, made it a priority to practice unity as a collective unit. This allowed both small and large civilizations to thrive for centuries.

Although it is easy to find “Black firsts” and stories of great individuals in our past, none of our achievements would have been possible without the backing of the Community. Harriet Tubman used an intricate network of people unified towards a common goal to free hundreds of enslaved Black folks.

Marcus Garvey organized millions to support the Black Star Line, making commerce and transportation a reality. Dr. King was the face of the Civil Rights Movement, but it was the unnamed people getting attacked by dogs who propelled the movement forward.

Finally, the kingdom of Kemet was unified in moving over 2 million 80 ton stones to build the Pyramids of Giza, a feat of architecture that still confuses modern-day engineers.

All of these groups practiced Umoja to change the world.

This practice is more important now than ever. After centuries of our family structure, communities, and culture being destroyed in America, unification is one factor that will help us operate in the world from a position of strength. That strength enables us to reclaim what has been taken from us as we simultaneously build new infrastructure in the form of schools, businesses, financial institutions, media organizations, etc.

Umoja involves sharing and acting in unison. The best way to begin practicing Umoja is in our homes, as family is the foundation of any strong group of people.

The way we interact with our family when it comes to making decisions should be selfless and cohesive. Once we get our immediate surroundings in order, we can then focus on practicing Umoja with the greater community.

Other ethnic groups, such as Koreans and Jewish people, have found success in America by sharing resources, practicing ethnic nepotism in their businesses, and establishing methods of conflict resolution without relying on forces from the dominant society. This practice has allowed them to find independent success in the “land of opportunity.”

Malcom X said it best when he exclaimed, “In the past, the greatest weapon the white man has had has been his ability to divide and conquer. If I take my hand and slap you, you don't even feel it. It might sting you because these digits are separated. But all I have to do to put you back in your place is bring those digits together.”

If we practice Umoja daily, we can come together as a fist and land a powerful blow against the forces working against us.


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