Melyssa Barrett: So many of you might be wondering, “Why am I talking about Kwanzaa in February?” Well I’ll tell you why. Because Kwanzaa is a celebration of African-American culture. And although it is celebrated from December 26 through January 1, from my perspective when I think about the principles, they are in fact important everyday.
You see, Kwanzaa was created to help build the community of African Americans and Africans throughout the world by reinforcing seven essential values of African culture. So today I want to spend a few minutes talking about the first principle.
In the Pan-African language of Swahili, it’s “Umoja.” Umoja is about striving for and maintaining unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
How relevant it is to today. And as we think about diversity and inclusion, there are many times whether you’re within an employee resource group, a business resource group, a function, a department, a division – whatever you want to call it – nobody is going to always agree.”
Even if we are in the same group. And that’s what so exciting. It’s because you want to be able to express your views – your diverse views – and come up with things that allow you to share your unity.
You can practice Umoja everyday by understanding African heritage and how you fit in with the African diaspora. Learn about the struggles and celebrations of the past to help you understand your connections.
You can bring more unity into your life by developing a peaceful environment and building healthy relationships. Whether you’re at the office, whether you’re at home with your family in quarantine or otherwise. Plan and participate in family gatherings, reunions, fellowships, and community events that promote unity as a core value.
Create family time. Share meals without a television or cell phone. Talk to your loved ones. Talk to your connections, your coworkers, your colleagues. Get to know them. That connection makes a difference.
Celebrate the spirit of Umoja in your life everyday. Thanks for joining me on the Jali Podcast! Please subscribe so you won’t miss an episode. See you next week!