Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Ujima: True Solidarity

Habari Gani! No sleeping in with Alanna Naledi today, she was ready! Apparently spending the morning at the Please Touch Museum in Philly, celebrating Kwanzaa with a performance by the Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble and then walking around West Philly's Drexel campus for several hours with Aunt Mignon didn't tire her out like it did Mama and Papa. Now I'm left with an achy back and she wants to bang baby food jars together. That's how it goes huh?

Today is the Kwanzaa Principle Ujima, Collective Work and Responsibility. This concept is best reflected in the phrase, "It takes a village to raise a child." This phrase has increased in popularity throughout the years but its observance is actually lacking. I mean, when's the last time you saw a village actually raising a child? Even orphans in this country mostly become wards of the state and live their lives in residential facilities run by state employees.

When I was in high school, I was a part of a group of Christians who thought our only responsibility was to save souls from hell. We didn't care about feeding people's bellies or making sure they had adequate housing and wages. We only cared about the soul. Then, when I graduated, I discovered that Christians didn't have a lock on doing good in the world. I realized that Muslims, Buddhists and Atheists were responsible for much of the justice movements in the world and the Christians were responsible for much of the degradation. And so I sought not just to be a good Christian but to actually change that which was unjust in my community and in this global society.

I also realized that if I was going to change this world I had to take responsibility for the harm that has been committed. I learned of the femicide in Juarez, Mexico and realized that sexism had created hostile and violent environments for women and who were the main perpetrators? Men. So if femicide and misogyny were going to end, who would have to be the one to end it? Men. That I saw as my responsibility. I could no longer just sit back and watch as women marched to end misogyny and sexism, I had to be in solidarity.

Right now in the Black Lives Matter movement where I live, there is a lot of emphasis placed on Letters of Solidarity from business for Black Lives Matter Movement and its intersectionalities. But true solidarity is more than a letter, it means standing with pain and oppression so that it becomes your pain and oppression. It means that if my sister or brother is being oppressed then I have to stand next to them because their oppression becomes linked to my own.

My Sister, Angela Davis, reminds us of how oppressions are linked in her new book, Freedom Is A Constant Struggle. She reminds us that we have to see the local and the global linked, and so I end today's reflection with a quote from her book. She writes, "The militarization of the police leads us to think about Israel and the militarization of the police there--if only the images of the police and not the demonstrators had been shown, one might have assumed that Ferguson was Gaza." This is what we have to fight against, a universal threat of violence calls for a universal village of Freedom Fighters. May it be so. Ashe.

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