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Habari Gani? Umoja! It’s Time to Celebrate Kwanzaa!

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Many of us celebrate this season in different ways.  While many celebrate Christmas, we pray your festivities will also incorporate family and some of the Kwanzaa principles whether you celebrate the specific holiday or not.

What is Kwanzaa?

Kwanzaa is an annual holiday celebrated primarily by African Americans beginning the day after Christmas, December 26th, through January 1st.  The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” meaning “first fruits” in Swahili.  The holiday was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach, to bring African Americans together with a culmination of African traditions.  The tradition is a blend of several different harvest celebrations, such as those of the Ashanti and Zulu tribes.

There are seven principles of Kwanzaa:

  1. Umoja (oo–MO–jah) – Unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
  2. Kujichagulia (koo–gee–cha–goo–LEE–yah) – Self-determination: Define, name, create for, and speak for ourselves.
  3. Ujima (oo–GEE–mah) – Collective Work and Responsibility: Build and maintain our community together; Our brother’s and sister’s problems are our problems and we solve them together.
  4. Ujamaa (oo–JAH–mah) – Cooperative Economics: Build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and profit from them together.
  5. Nia (nee–YAH) – Purpose: Our collective vocation is the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
  6. Kuumba (koo–OOM–bah) – Creativity: Always do as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
  7. Imani (ee–MAH–nee) – Faith: Believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

What do I need to celebrate?

That’s the beauty, nothing but spirit and contemplation are truly needed to celebrate this holiday.  The intention is simply to be intentional about supporting each other and the Black community.  If you would like to celebrate with traditional items however, here is a list of what is needed:

  1. Mkeka: The Mkeka mat is the foundation of the Kwanzaa table.
  2. Kinara: Candleholder as the centerpiece of the Kwanzaa table.  It holds the Mishumaa Saba, or the seven candles intended for the celebration.
  3. Mishumaa Saba: The seven candles (one black, three red, and three green)
  4. Kikombe cha Umoja: The unity cup can be any large cup or chalice. Everyone you celebrate generally would sip from the cup at the celebrations, but in COVID times it’s best to all drink at the same time rather than from the same cup!
  5. Mazao: The harvest. This is generally represented with fruits or vegetables on the Kwanzaa table laid on the Mkeka.
  6. Muhindi: The corn that represents children or abundance. Traditionally, you have one ear of corn to represent each child in the house, plus one additional ear.
  7. Zawadi: These are gifts that are usually handmade, educational, or purchased from a black-owned business.

Kwanzaa: 7 Principles to Honor African Heritage

How do I celebrate?

Habari Gani is Swahili for “what’s the news” and the proper response is the principle of the day.  For example, today one would say “Habari Gani?” and the response would be “Umoja!”

Each day (normally in the evening), the day’s principle is discussed among your family, blood or chosen, and then a candle is lit.  The order of lighting the candles is as follows:

  1. Day One: The unity (black) candle
  2. Day Two: The first red candle to the right of the unity candle is lit to represent Kujichagulia
  3. Day Three: The first green candle to the left of the unity candle is lit to represent Ujima
  4. Day Four-Seven: Alternate red and green to represent the remaining principles

 

I’m Christian though, can I still celebrate?

Short answer: Yes!  Kwanzaa is not a holiday tied to any particular religion but rather a cultural holiday to be celebrated in a unified and communal manner.

For more information, you can watch a video here, and if you have children under 10, this video might be good for them.

We would like to wish everyone a happy holiday season and Happy Kwanzaa!

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Tiffanie Lanelle is a Managing Editor at Urban Newsroom, writer, social and criminal justice advocate, and in executive management at UnmutedCo. As a graduate of Spelman College, she's passionate about the growth and development of the black community, black women and black people.

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White House Website Allows Users to Specify Pronouns for First Time

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As soon as President Biden was sworn into office, major changes came to the White House Website.

What We Know:

  • The day President Joe Biden was sworn in, the White House website was updated to allow visitors to specify what pronouns they use. LGBTQ advocates see the change as a small but symbolic example of the Biden administration reaching out to transgender and nonbinary Americans.

  • On Wednesday, the contact form at WhiteHouse.gov added a drop-down menu with pronoun options, including “she/her,” “he/him,” and “they/them.” Users can also select “other” and write in their own selections or indicate they “prefer not to share” their pronouns. The list of prefixes has also been updated to include the gender-neutral “Mx.” along with “Mr.,” “Mrs.,” and “Ms.”

  • Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, former White House LGBTQ liaison under the Obama administration and the first openly transgender person to work as a White House staffer, said, “It’s truly wonderful to see the White House so sensitively and prominently signal inclusion.”

“Allowing visitors, whether transgender, nonbinary or cisgender-identified, to indicate their preferred pronouns when visiting the home of President Biden, demonstrates the kind of welcoming place 1600 Pennsylvania will now be for all Americans,” Freedman-Gurspan told NBC News.

  • The site now includes a Spanish language version of the White House’s communications, a page that went dark when former President Donald Trump took office. The relaunch came the same day President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took the oath of office. Harris is now the first female, first Black, and first South Asian vice president.

This is a small step that President Joe Biden and his administration have already taken after being in office for one day.

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Jay-Z Creates $10 Million Fund to Help Increase Minority-Owned Cannabis Companies

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Jay-Z is investing in minority-owned cannabis companies. He wants to help those minorities who have missed out on the marijuana industry.

What We Know:

  • Jay-Z has raised $10 million to invest in minority-owned cannabis businesses. The funds are a byproduct of the industry’s largest-ever SPAC merger. The legendary rapper – real name Sean Carter – told The Wall Street Journal he was motivated by the imbalance in the marijuana business, where people of color have been disproportionately punished for illegal use of the drug. Carter also highlighted that those same individuals make up just a small number of those who make money from the legal cannabis industry.

“We were the ones most negatively affected by the war on drugs, and America has turned around and created a business from it that’s worth billions,” Carter told the WSJ.

  • The rapper and entrepreneur said he is motivated by an imbalance in the marijuana business: People of color, who have been disproportionately punished for involvement in the drug where it is illegal, comprise only a small number of those making money from the multibillion-dollar market in legalized weed.
  • In the 25 years since California first legalized medical marijuana, cannabis has grown into a $20 billion legal business in the country that could surpass the $70 billion market for U.S. wine by 2030, according to an estimate by the New York investment bank Cowen & Co. Mr. Carter, who is starting his fund with $10 million in seed money received as part of a merger, joins a broader push for equitable economic opportunity in the cannabis sector, as studies show that minorities have been punished more than whites for using drugs.
  • Markets Insider reported that $10 million Carter now has to invest is the result of a recent acquisition made by a SPAC called Subversive Capital Acquisition of two California-based cannabis companies: CMG Partners Inc. and Left Coast Ventures Inc. Carter also recently launched his own cannabis line, called Monogram. According to a report, the resulting entity has been named The Parent Company, which completed its qualifying transaction last week and is now the largest vertically integrated cannabis operation in California.
  • On top of the initial $10 million investment, The Parent Company will provide Carter’s fund another 2% of net income in each subsequent year. Along with his involvement in the fund, Carter was named the chief visionary officer of The Parent Company.

The Social Equity Ventures fund will donate up to $1 million to each cannabis startup it chooses to back. It will be run by Jay-Z and Roc Nation’s CEO, Desiree Perez.

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Kamala Harris Nephew-In-Law Stole the Show at Inauguration with A Pair of Dior Jordan 1s

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Nikolas Ajagu, the husband of Harris' niece Meena, was spotted by eagle-eyed viewers sporting a pair of Dior Air Jordan 1 sneakers during the 59th presidential inauguration this morning (He's shown above with his two daughters.) (GETTY IMAGES)

With the world watching on as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn into office Wednesday, it was the new Vice President’s nephew-in-law who caught social media’s attention after being seen descending the Capitol steps in a costly pair of sneakers.

What We Know:

  • Nikolas Ajagu, the partner of Harris’ niece Meena, was spotted by eagle-eyed viewers sporting a pair of Dior Air Jordan 1 sneakers during the 59th presidential inauguration.
  • Only 8,500 pairs of the shoes were created as part of a collaboration between Dior and Jordan last year, and all sold out instantly at their retail price of $2,200. They now sell for up to as much as $10,000 on resale sites.
  • Sneaker enthusiasts first spotted the ultra-rare kicks while Sen. Amy Klobuchar delivered a speech moments before Biden was given the oath of office.

  • The discovery provoked an online investigation to identify the man behind the bold fashion statement, in addition to motivating a multitude of memes and humorous pieces of comments along the way.

  • ‘Had no idea the Department of Drip fell under the Executive Branch,’ one observer thought. Others called Ajagu, who in his late 30s and works as head of global partnerships at Facebook, as the man who ‘dared to drip.’
  • Ajagu’s identity was ultimately exposed by his wife Meena after streetwear brand owner Bobby Kim tweeted her to ask: ‘Is Nik wearing the Dior 1s?’

  • ‘Yes, smh [so much hate],’ she responded.
  • As Ajagu’s shoes began trending on Twitter, Meena shared a laugh about her husband’s newfound fame, tweeting: ‘I step away from Twitter for less than an hour for the inauguration ceremony, and Nik’s shoes are #1 trending?????’

Ajagu was widely recognized as the man who ‘dared to drip’ at the inauguration across Twitter. Others called his bold wardrobe choice a ‘defining moment in black history.’

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