Today's Kwanzaa principle is Kujichagulia, meaning self determination. One of my sister friend's posted an Audre Lorde quote stating, "If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me & eaten alive."
I've chosen traditions for my family that weren't practiced in the house I spent my teenage years. My parents chose not to participate yesterday and feigned ignorance regarding the meaning behind the holiday. While I recognize that the unfamiliar is uncomfortable, it's a source of pride to know my younger siblings are receptive. To know that I'm a peer to some of them, but they're no less willing to let me lead.
My nephew's first time learning what slavery meant came directly from my mouth, during yesterday's activity. There's no greater gift than knowing I played a small part in shaping his understanding of something so tied to our people. How good it is to know that his first time learning an essential part of our history won't be at the hands of a school teacher, whose view may not make room for the totality of the Black experience.
To celebrate Umoja (unity) yesterday, we held hands in a circle and told each person something we loved about them. We also shared something we wanted to apologize to each person for, if we felt led to do so. I didn't force the apology piece, but sharing affirmations of love was a must.
I wasn't the only one who cried during this activity, and it made me see that while the undercurrent of my paternal family is filled with love, it's not often explicitly stated/demonstrated. Asking for forgiveness in front of others builds compassion in such a simple way. Doing both of these things felt like a private revolution, happening right in my parent's dining room.
This post is a toast to that: to doing things your own way. Know that my faintly seen Black ass is filled with joy and grateful my husband is as great a documentarian as I am. He captures in pictures what I capture in words. So, while I considered not sharing this photo, the reality is that it's a small glimpse into yesterday's greatness. Zora giggled continuously as I shook my butt in her direction while we cleaned our bodies. Our Black joy is just that simple. What better time to celebrate that than during Kwanzaa.