Principle five for Kwanzaa is Nia which means purpose: to make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to our traditional greatness.
I remember meeting a successful African-American car salesman. His position with the company afforded him all the perks. Other salesman envied his large office space. It was obvious he had an impressive salary, clout, and influence with his peers. He sent his son to one of the best private schools in the city and he owned a home in an affluent area of town. One evening as we spoke I passionately shared about my research of African history. Unimpressed, he looked back at me with a blank stare and adamantly said no one cares about that. Stunned by his statement I quickly responded, I do. Trying to convince him otherwise, I told him how different our world would be if our children knew their history and if we were taught the truth about our history in school. The man of influence quickly stated that all history is about is remembering dates. It means nothing and it’s not going to help me make money. I want my son to understand things that help him make money and move ahead in life.
I could not be critical of the man. Living in America, our minds are shaped by Eurocentric ideas of capitalism. Most of African-Americans live in survival mode aggressively pursuing the American dream. Is the American dream the dream for African-American people too?
I submit that part of dream that our ancestors had for us was to work together and to have all things in common. Today that means whatever your profession, area of training or skill set is, it should be used to help build and restore our people to greatness. As an African-American people we stand on the shoulders of many who have come before us. We sit in classrooms and work at certain jobs because of the commitment and sacrifices made by others When we learn to think with the collective mindset of our ancestors we will lift each other up psychologically and economically. The struggle continues today and there is still an imperative need and time to restore us to our traditional greatness. There are people waking up to truth and this means if you are awake you can help to usher in the next wave of restoration for our people.
Success is not success when your brother or sister is defeated and hopeless. We should have learned from the way President Obama was constantly disrespected that we can rise no higher than the lowest of us. The illusion of accomplishment for us in is this country created with wrong perceptions for equal opportunity and grandeur cause us to embrace individualism and forsake the responsibility we have to help each other just like the car salesman. The venom of the Meritorious Manumission Act of 1710 still shapes our psyche and dictates how we treat one another.
We can experience the level of peace and prosperity that is available to us as African people when we became others centered. The principle of Nia reminds us that yes, we are our brothers and sister keeper. I realize everybody won’t help nor wants to participate in the liberation of our people. Nonetheless, for those of us who are truly conscious there are wonderful days ahead despite the way things appear in society. There is a necessary transformational and empowering energy that manifest when we connect and help each other that no other people has the potential to experience. Let us rise up together. Happy Kwanzaa!
In peace and love,
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