Melyssa Barrett: Welcome to The Jali podcast. I’m your host, Melyssa Barrett. This podcast is for those who are interested in the conversation around diversity, inclusion and equity. Each week I’ll be interviewing a guest who has something special to share or is actively part of building solutions in this space. Let’s get started.
I talked a bit about Kwanzaa and the principles associated with Kwanzaa. I personally enjoy this celebration because it not only provides an opportunity to celebrate our culture, but it also affords us the opportunity to recommit ourselves to a level of excellence. When you think of first fruits, you think about the best, the level of quality. And yet I know I’m constantly asking myself if I can do better, how can I be better? When I think about Kwanzaa principles, I think they are principles that can be emphasized every day. Whether it’s unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, or faith.
In 2020, there were so many things happening, some things were happening to us and yet this was also a time that many used reflect and recommit themselves. If you could work from home now, perhaps there was a place you wanted to be and you decided to work from there for a while. Perhaps there was something you wanted to do in 2020 that you couldn’t do or something that called out to you to increase your awareness and your consciousness about your own biases. Maybe you wanted to become a better ally, speak up for someone, somewhere. So this time I thought I would expand on one of the principles that seems to be speaking to me this year.
In Kwanzaa, there is a fifth principle called Nia, meaning purpose. To make our collective vocation, the building and developing of our community, in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness. Now there’s a whole lot in that a collective vocation, building and developing of our community, restoring people, traditional greatness. I thought I would highlight a poem, however, by Johnnie Renee Nelson, and this poem is from a book called Classic Kwanzaa Poems and it is called the Nia Poem.
“Purpose gives meaning to whatever we choose to do. Sincerity of purpose combined with faith is what will see us through. As we wholeheartedly commit to accomplishing our personal best, we will achieve our heart’s desire, our dreams will manifest. Purpose gives definition to the tasks we undertake, we empower ourselves and our purpose by the choices that we make. The sincerity of our actions and the intensity of our desires are the factors that activate our motivation, that ignite our creative fires. Purpose gives direction to the path we choose to track, our clarity of purpose is what helps us to select the appropriate thoughts needed to determine the right tack. We know where we’re going and our focus keeps us on track. Purpose gives significance to our being to our vision available to all by simply making a committed decision.”
So this year, when you think about your intentions and your purpose, if purpose gives significance to our being, our vision all by simply making a committed decision, what will your committed decisions be? Will you commit to diversity and inclusion and the practices that promote them? What are you going to commit to? Whatever you decide let’s do it with all the unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative, economics, creativity, faith, and purpose we can muster. And now when you think of Kwanzaa, think of practicing Kwanzaa principles every single day, so that we can achieve the excellence that we’re all entitled to.
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