Saturday, December 31, 2011

Kwanzaa 2011 and the New Year 2012

January 1 is the last of 7 days of Kwanzaa, a celebration of African and African-American culture, a tradition created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga. Its roots have grown strong, nurtured by many who resonated with the idea that we descendants of Africa in the Diaspora are worthy of celebration, along with our culture and our ancestors. Its branches have extended out of the homes where Kwanzaa began into libraries, museums, community centers, schools, and even the media now include "Happy Kwanzaa" to well wishes for other traditions celebrated around the same time. Yet, much of its richness remains untapped, much of its potential fruit, unripened. I speak here of the principles of Kwanzaa, the heart of this celebration. They are at the core of how we have survived as a People, flourished even: Unity, Self-Determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity and Imani.

I have been blessed to be part of a community of friends and family over the years who have pursued these values in our living and share a commitment not only to our immediate community but our larger community. Each of us in our own way has attempted to add to the beauty of our community, small and large, to add to the healing in our community, mindful that there remain many who live on the margins of survival, of feeling connected and valued, and even of feeling human. We have raised our children to feel connected to and care about our immediate and larger community and to bring that mindset and heart to their chosen work.

I once worked with someone who said to me, "Love is the most powerful force in the Universe."

Over and over, I find it so true. And a communal love that includes love of self and love of the collective can part the fiercest fog of oppression, and dissipate the ugliest of self-destruction. To love is to value oneself, to know in one's marrow that you have a place at the Divine table that is not earned, but freely given, despite all the messages coming at you that it's money, title, brand of sneakers or muscle mass that bestow your worth.

In 2012 it is my hope that the branches of Kwanzaa will reach deeper into our communities with a purpose to empower more of us to resist the mentality of street life, to make a way (as we always have) through and around the brush/the predatory landscape/and the pain of so many losses to something that affirms our value, a deeper love, a wider loving.

In 2012, it is my intent to love with both a ferocity and gentleness as called for, and to open more fully to receiving the abundance of love in the Universe.