Kwanzaa: communal celebrations, reflections and communal gratitude
As Black migrants in the US, we come from countries and communities where we have our own unique cultural celebrations that strengthen our ties to one another. These celebrations proclaim pride in who we are, fortify our bonds and announce our existence.
This is one reason Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) recognizes Kwanzaa, a holiday created by and for Black people in the US that pulls from the traditions of our various cultures on the continent of Africa. These traditions, known as “first fruits” or harvest, which also signify a closing of one period and the beginning of another, are a time for communal celebrations, reflections and communal gratitude.
The practice of tearing something down and replacing it with new is a communal one. Abolition is a movement and philosophy rooted in the struggle of enslaved Africans to end chattel slavery and build a society where Black people would thrive. It took a communal effort to end the barbaric practice of chattel enslavement, and it was a communal effort that built new, prosperous communities once Africans became freed people.
As an abolitionist organization, BAJI understands that prisons, police, detention, and deportations do not create safety but in fact, increase and create more violence. True safety is not defined by punishment but by organized, well-resourced communities.
As we end the year and look towards 2023, we see that the seven principles that ground Kwanzaa – Unity, Self-Determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Creativity, Purpose and Faith – are principles that can readily assist us in the building of a new society that does not prioritize carcerality but does prioritize care and concern for group well-being. The most tangible evidence of this care and concern is the investment of a majority of fiscal, physical, and intellectual resources into housing, education, mental healthcare and other community social services.
As Black peoples in the US, Black celebrations, such as Kwanzaa, do the work of past, present and future. They provide a guide to our origins and where we have been; our present reality; and the work we must undertake in order to get to our next level of development.
BAJI wishes you well as we go into 2023. We keep us safe.