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I Still Say Their Names

I Still Say Their Names

There are times when I just sit and repeat the story of these unarmed black and brown bodies who were killed. I imagine I am telling it to a future generation

It plays out like this: Something happens and the teen says “call the cops!” But they are stopped. Teen comes to me and asks why. I tell Teen that we can’t be sure if the cop will see us as a victim or suspect. Teen insists his friend is a victim (of whatever) and that much is clear.

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Day 7: Imani

Day 7: Imani

Habari Gani? Imani!

Hope is the pillar of the world. – African Proverb

Imani, of Faith, is the last of the Nguzo Saba (7 Principles).  The Black community thrives on faith.  Faith isn’t just a hope. It’s a vision of where we WILL be. In the time of slavery, our ancestors held on to the hope that one day they would be free. During the middle of the century, our grandparents and leaders held on to the faith that one day we would all be equal.  Faith is part of the building block of our community because without faith, there is no reason to fight for better, to work for better, to support each other for the better.  Like a load bearing wall, faith holds us up when everything around us seems to crumble.

Like Nia and Kuumba, Imani/Faith is a Green candle because of the hope we have in our future.  Open any newspaper article now and you will see news of issues plaguing our community.  As we have for so many decades, we are faced with a rising number of our young men in prison, or worse, dead whether by each other’s hands or by law enforcement.We tend to think of a Higher Power when we think of having faith.  And while that is important, it is just as necessary to have faith in oneself.  It is by the faith our community had that we can vote, marry, congregate…win elections.

It makes sense that Imani would come last.  We started by joining together in Unity (Umoja) and we end by having faith in ourselves and our community.  It ends with believing in each other.


Imani/Faith Day

The focus of Imani/Faith Day is on trust and reflection.  Today is a day to really think about what you want for the future and reaffirm your faith in not just the world around you, but in yourself to make it happen.  Here are some activities for Imani Day:

  • Light the last GREEN candle and ask: Habari Gani? Imani!
  • Pour a drink into the Unity Cup in honor of our loved ones who passed on before us.
  • Spend some time in silence and inactivity and reflect on life as it is now and as you want it to be in the near future.  Meditate.
  • If you are celebrating with family and friends, take a moment to talk about how having faith in yourself and others has manifested over the past year.
  • This is the last day of Kwanzaa and so reflecting over the the other 6 principles. How do they relate to each other? How can you use Imani to strengthen them?  How can you incorporate Imani more in the coming year?
  • Celebrate each other and celebrate your ancestors at the final Karamu (feast)!

Harambe! And thank you for celebrating with me and my family.

Heri za Kwanzaa! And Happy New Year!

Day 6: Kuumba

Day 6: Kuumba

Habari Gani? Kuumba!

To stumble is not to fall, but to go forward faster. – African Proverb

Kuumba is the principle of creativity.  It is more than making art and music, or inventing.  It is about using your creativity to help advance your community.  As is a part of every process, there will be times when we stumble, but that doesn’t mean that we fall.  We stumble, we learn and we correct ourselves next time.  This way we reach our goal much faster than if we didn’t trip every now and then.

The Black community has a history rife with creativity that helped advance not just our own people, but the global community.  The stoplight? Carbon filament in light bulbs? Refrigeration systems in long haul trucks? The home security system? The creative minds in the Black community brought these to us.

Black creativity brought us the pyramids, cell phone technology and the laser-eye treatment and athletic gear.  It even brought us the Motown Sound!


Kuumba/Creativity Day

There is so much we can celebrate about our community.  On this day, focus on how the members of our community have developed ideas in such a way as to improve the schools, communities and our lives in general.  Remember the historical figures such as George Washington Carver, but also acknowledge the contemporary figures such as Dr. Patricia Bath.

Here are some things to do on Kuumba day:

  • Light the next GREEN candle and ask: Habari Gani? Kuumba!
  • Pour a drink in the unity cup in honor of those who passed before us.
  • Use this day as another day to uplift the community by focusing on the different ways Black creativity has improved our lives.
  • As a family, discuss how you have and will work to improve the community, the schools, and the family.  What do you think could be your contribution to the list of ways Black creativity has helped us prosper?
  • This days is about creating, so plan an improvement project for the home, school or local area.  This can be as simple as grabbing some friends and cleaning a park, to planning a small reunion.
  • Enjoy your Karamu (feast) if you’ve prepared one. Try a new recipe if you dare.
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