Habari Gani? UMOJA! (Unity)

On this first day of Kwanzaa, we begin by celebrating and reflecting on Umoja [ewe-MOW-jah] (unity).

UMOJA (unity)

To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.

Umoja stresses the importance of togetherness for the family and the community. Even though we are descended from people who were scattered throughout the world, where they spoke many tongues and adapted to many influences, we are still, in most ways, one people. This shared unity of common heritage and spirit is honored on the first day of Kwanzaa.

Umoja represents our reclaiming the “village” mentality. I have seen no other ethnic group as fragmented as Black folks. You see communities of Hispanic/Latino, Vietnamese, Jewish and various other nationalities come together to support each others’ businesses and look out for each other families. Though there are always exceptions, the main rule seems to be “My people first.” From the news coverage I’ve seen and a lot of the antics I’ve seen online and in person, I often want to disavow large segments of my people. But overall, I would like us all–in all the different skin tones and hair colors and “mix” percentages–to come together as one community and try to help each other to at least the same level, if not elevating to a higher one. The “crabs in a barrel” mentality takes over more often though, where people are willing to pull others down and take their resources for themselves to get ahead rather than working for their own and sharing to get everyone to a better position. Embracing umoja would mean fostering a community of people who want and would strive for better for the benefit of all.

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