“There is more power in unity than in division.” -Emanuel Cleaver
Emanuel Cleaver’s quote seems like such a simple and obvious thing to say, but humanity in general cannot seem to get this whole unity thing down. We tend to want to divide ourselves into various categories and labels, instead of working together towards whatever it is that we want accomplished. This is a human problem, not just a Black problem, but the Black community does have it’s share of petty divisions. The first day of Kwanzaa is devoted to getting rid of divisive thought in the Black community.
Although this post will primarily be about a big picture level of unity, I want to note that Kwanzaa emphasizes unity on a smaller scale as well. Unity in marriages and families, unity between friends, unity between students and teachers, unity in churches, and with the people in one’s own neighborhood. These smaller units are the building blocks on which larger scale unity is established.
In the Black community, there are divides between light and dark skinned people, there is a divide between what is considered “good” hair and “nappy” hair, there is a divide between those who choose to assimilate to White society (in terms of appearance like clothing and hair) and those who choose to embrace their Blackness (in terms of appearance). There is a divide between the enlightened – or “woke”- Black people and those who are still sleeping in the ignorance of whatever the “woke” ones feel that they are “woke” from. There is a divide between those Black people who speak standard English, have a college education, or live upwardly mobile professional lifestyles and those who are still on the streets. Some of these divisions are historically based, as slaves were pitted against one another to keep us from uniting and revolting. And other divisions are just petty superiority complexes, but in either case, these divisions that hold us back as a group in this country.
On the flip side, there are so many things that we are doing right. We are publicly supporting one another’s accomplishments through hashtags like #blackgirlmagic or #blackguymagic. We are learning more about and traveling more often to nations in Africa and, instead of being embarrassed by Africa, we are embracing the continent of our ancestry and speaking up for it. We are pulling together to defend one another in times of injustice and that has led to our taking an interest in other groups of people who face injustice around the world. We are supporting one another’s businesses and taking initiative in providing our children with educational experiences that are relevant to who we are and where we have been as a group of people. There is so much about who we are and what we are doing in the world to be proud of.
We need unity, because unity is not just a way to change how we are often viewed and treated in our nation. Unity is the only way we will survive.
And that is not only true for the Black community in America – but it is true for all of humanity.
So, here are some ways to celebrate unity after you light your kinara today!
–Get to know someone new today or express your affection/appreciation for a loved one in your life! Unity starts with us supporting and loving on one another.
–If you’re into music, get together with others for a jam session! If not, perhaps a game night, karaoke night, lego night, arts and crafts night – or anything to help build bonds and create memories.
–Write greeting cards to friends and family, congratulating their accomplishments or encouraging them through a tough time.
Honestly, the possibilities are endless!
Find a way to build bonds of unity with the people in your life today, and I look forward to a second day of Kwanzaa tomorrow!