Kwanzaa 2022 – Day 7

IMANI: Faith

To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

It all comes down to this one.

This day focuses on honoring the best of our traditions, draws upon the best in ourselves, and helps us to strive for a higher level of life for humankind by affirming our self-worth and confidence in our ability to succeed and triumph in righteous struggle.

That sounded good, didn’t it? That’s why I copied it from an image on my feed. People try so hard to complicate the issue of faith, but it is not that difficult to understand. Whoever wrote this line for “The Santa Clause” said it best:

“Seeing is not believing. Believing is seeing.”

It really is. I am a witness, especially this past year. I have been at a level of poverty that I had never experienced before, but instead of wasting time with worry and stress, I doubled down on my faith. God has never left me or forgotten me. No one can make me doubt him, no matter what my other senses say.

I believe. Therefore, I see.

Kwanzaa 2022 – Day 6

KUUMBA: Creativity

To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

This principle is my favorite.

Regardless of how yucky the world is, or how tentative my place in it becomes, I will always be committed to creating beauty in the image of my people. Creativity reminds us that God has gifted us with the ability to make the world around us better than when we found it.

No matter how poor I am or depressed I get, I can be uplifted by bold colors, wild designs, excellent ideas, and melanated greatness. Creativity keeps me here. New ways to express myself keeps my blood warm. The possibilities of being discovered and appreciated for my creativity is what keeps me moving forward.

That is why my standard is so high when it comes to presentation, especially in the church. Church plays, concerts, and dance presentations need to have the same level of excellence–if not higher–as professional productions. Creative Arts ministries are infamous for just sliding by with the minimum effort. I cannot accept that, which is main reason why I cannot be part of their groups. That and the inherent nepotism.

Creativity keeps me alive. I will give no less than my best in everything that I produce, even if no one ever sees it.

Kwanzaa 2022 – Day 5

NIA: Purpose

To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

I don’t want to see another slave movie for as long as I live.

I don’t want to see another inner city/gang/pimp/prostitute depiction.

And I sure as shooting don’t want to see any more half-dressed, ghetto-rich women tearing each other apart on a so-called reality show.

“Collective vocation” means “everybody’s job”. It is our job as a community to present ourselves with the dignity and excellence of the kings and queens that we have descended from.

More “Black Panther”. More “Hidden Figures”. More “The Harder We Fall”. Less “Real Housewives”. Less “Love and Hip Hop”. Less foolishness. More dignity.

Kwanzaa 2022 – Day 4

UJAMAA:

To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.

An author is an entrepreneur. The entrepreneur part is kicking my booty.

Writing the book, which was by no means the easy part, is just the beginning of the process. Getting people interested enough to want to read it and sell it to others who might want to read it…it’s easier trying to stand on my ear.

I have officially been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, so my not liking people is more than just a sound byte. I will spare you the details, but the bottom line is that social situations for me are like breathing carbon monoxide: a slow death.

Nevertheless, I persist.

Fortunately, I have Jenise, who has earned her MBA. By helping her through that process, I have gleaned more than a few helpful tips, because the workshops are not working for me. They should be, but they are not.

Nevertheless, I persist. Because I am not allowed to give up.

Kwanzaa 2022 – Day 3

UJIMA – Collective Work and Responsibility

To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems, and to solve them together.

Togetherness. I really only experience that with Jenise. We are joined at the hip, like Batman and Robin. We are Sisters from the Greatest Mister. We are artists, dance ministers, best friends, and family. I take care of her, and she takes care of me.

I help her run her outreach ministry and assemble gifts for her co-workers. She helps me with my many art projects and self publishing endeavors.

We will absolutely be that pair of old ladies bickering over minutiae, laughing at inside jokes, and causing people to walk wide circles around us.

Kwanzaa 2022 – Day 2

KUJICHAGULIA: Self-Determination

To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.

There is only one me.

That used to bother me, because I have no children of my own to pass my legacy to. Maybe I was not meant to pass who I am and what I do to one person. I no longer believe that that is possible.

My creativity is too big for one person’s spirit to hold. It is often too big for mine, so I know what I am talking about.

I am an artist, and no one can do what I do the way that I do it. I am not the worst nor the best. I am just me.

And that is enough.

Kwanzaa 2022

Yep…it’s that time of the year again.

Habari Gani? Kwanzaa!

New house. New dining room. New candles, which almost did not get here in time and are impossible to find at the price that I pay for them. Same kinara set. Same dedication to celebrating my culture and honoring the Nguzo Saba (the seven principles).

UMOJA: Unity

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

Jenise and I actually moved back to the neighborhood where we both grew up and went to school in as children. I was only there for six years, but the bulk of my childhood memories are from that area of Northwest Philly. It is the place that pops into my mind when someone says the word community, because it feels most like home to me. And now, I have returned as an adult, having spent almost forty years away from this place, being not much more than a visitor.

How do I reconnect and rejoin this community? That is my challenge.

The Black Panther Lives!

Last night, the night before Thanksgiving, was the perfect time for me and Jenise to go see Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Everyone was either out of town or at home doing something else. There were eleven of us in the theater, and Jenise and I had our own row.

Thank you, Father.

How do I describe this movie without giving away spoilers? Pretty much the same way everybody else is: it was a beautiful tribute to the late, great Chadwick Boseman, who played T’Challa. Recasting the part would have been a mistake–yes, I said it. I know that there are Black actors who need work, but some roles can only be played by the one who originated them.

Director Ryan Coogler gave us all a chance to properly mourn King T’Challa and the man who played him. And then he gave us one humdinger of a story for this long-awaited sequel, as Princess Shuri takes her rightful place as T’Challa’s successor. I have a new respect for Letitia Wright, who played Shuri with such a surprising depth of emotion.

As much as I enjoyed the imagery of Atlantis in Aquaman, I must say that I prefer Marvel’s version of the underwater empire, given the name Talokan. I know how this will sound to some people, but I don’t care: I am elated to watch a superhero movie about mythical origins with Black and Brown faces, and plots that do not showcase white people. Yes, there are the obligatory Caucasians in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, but they were not depicted as the big, bad Boogiemen. There was a bigger, badder enemy than the politics of white supremacy (although I did get a kick out of Queen Ramonda’s speech to a room full of colonizers). I did not hate Namor or the other Talokans at all.

As usual, the women in this movie were fierce. Every single one of them. I am happy to have all the dolls in the Fresh Fierce collection from Fresh Dolls. I only wish that there were more. There needs to be more: Ayo, Aneka, Riri Williams, and Queen Ramonda, played by the incomparable Angela Bassett.

I am going to love watching this movie over and over again, even though there were parts that truly upset me. But that would be spoiling it, so I will just say watch the movie. You will NOT be disappointed.