Juanita is feeling better now, thanks to all for the concern.
Along with ushering in 2018, January 1st was also the closing day for the 51st celebration of Kwanzaa, a Communitarian holiday festival which celebrates and educates the culture, struggles and triumphs of the Pan-African Diaspora. The featured photo shows a fully lit Kwanzaa Kinara on the festival’s final day of celebration.
If you ask most people about Kwanzaa, they will probably say that they have heard and seen the term at some point, and they may even say that it is celebrated mostly in the Black community. But after that, the details get spotty at best.
It’s easy to associate this tradition with Christmas because it begins on December 26th of each year, and ends on January 1st. But Kwanzaa is a Communitarian holiday not based in religion, but is rather a celebration of the culture, struggle and hope of African people. Let’s learn more about this special holiday from its founder, Dr. Maulana Karenga writing for Ebony Magazine on the 50th Anniversary..
We remember our history and the legacies left and the people who made and left them for us and the world. We reflect on the expansive meaning of being African in the world, on the context and issues of our times, and on our way forward in struggle to forge a future responsive to our needs and interests as well as those of the world. And we recommit ourselves to our highest values, to our most anchoring, elevating and liberating practices, and as ever to the good of our people and the well-being of the world.
At this historical milestone and marker, it is good to remember and reflect on the origins of Kwanzaa, not only in the ancient African festivals of harvest and shared good, but also its origins in the relentless and righteous struggles of the 60s (i.e., the Black Freedom Movement for freedom, justice, equality, and power of our people over their destiny and daily lives).
For deeply embedded and ever-present in the celebration of Kwanzaa and the practice of its founding principles, the Nguzo Saba, is the constant call for and commitment to striving and struggling. Here, I use striving and struggling interchangeably, with the meaning being exerting great and focused effort to achieve, excel and advance. For the struggle, as we imagined and waged it and continue to do so, is not only to defy and defeat the oppressor, but also to overturn ourselves, removing from ourselves the legacy of oppression, clearing social space in which we can live, love, work, build and relate freely, and striving diligently then to come into the fullness of ourselves.
Kwanzaa, then, was conceived, born and came into being in the midst of struggle, in the fires and furnaces of the Black Freedom Movement, and therefore carries within it this legacy and the lessons from it.
Though it honors contributions which originated on the African continent and takes it’s terminology from the African language of Swahili, the first Kwanzaa was actually celebrated in the United States. Now after 51 years, people all over the world observe this rich holiday tradition.
Here are some facts about Kwanzaa…
Each of the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa, or Nguzo Saba are celebrated on their own special day, and each occupy a candle on the Kwanzaa candle holder, or Kinara…
Umoja for Unity
Kujichagulia for Self-Determination
Ujima for Collective Work and Responsibility
Ujamaa for Cooperative Economics
Nia for Purpose
Kuumba for Creativity
Imani for Faith
The colors of Kwanzaa represent unity and commonality for peoples of African descent… Black for the people, Red for the struggle, and Green for their progress, and the hope for prosperity and achievement.
Another great Kwanzaa resources is a 2008 film, The Black Candle. The film, directed by M. K. Asante and narrated by Maya Angelou, is an in-depth examination of the holiday’s history, connections to the Black Power movement and other socio-political factors which surround its founding.
As we close out this year and wind down on a very busy season, Kwanzaa offers an opportunity to not only celebrate the year’s triumphs and the many incredible contributions of the Black community, but to help set important goals to achieve in the coming year. With the complex challenges that are present today, we need holidays like this one perhaps more than ever.
Do you celebrate Kwanzaa, or have you celebrated in the past? What are your thoughts on this holiday? Let me know in the comments.
If you live in Houston, this week’s news might seem a lot like awkward deja vu from 2015. Thanks to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Senator Lois Kolkhorst, and other Texas Conservatives emboldened by the 2015 defeat of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance and 2016 elections, held hearings on the blatantly discriminatory Senate Bill 6.
The Lieutenant Governor has chosen to move the bill forward in the Senate despite clear opposition from Speaker Joe Straus over in the Texas House. But despite this fact, the hearings went forward.
Throughout the day, hundreds of citizens from all across the state came to speak at the hearing on SB6, with the overwhelming majority speaking in opposition to the bill despite the committee’s best efforts to make it appear otherwise. The groundswell of supporters simply didn’t show up.
If you ask Texas Business leaders, many of them have already decided that SB6 is bad for the bottom line. From Keep Texas Open, here is the list of reasons that the state’s top business leaders would rather #StopSB6…
Discriminatory legislation threatens our economy. By passing SB 6 (the so-called “bathroom bill”) and other discriminatory legislation, Texas could lose billions of dollars in GDP, a critical loss of revenue that would profoundly threaten the state’s ability to fund education, transportation and other essential services. And thousands of jobs could be lost, according to the Texas Association of Business’ economic impact study.
Discriminatory legislation threatens Texas’ travel and tourism industry. Texas receives $68.7 billion in travel spending, which generates $6.2 billion in state and local taxes. Over 1 million jobs are supported by travel, 648,000 direct and 488,000 indirect. This vibrant industry, the second largest in our state, would suffer declines similar to those experienced by other states if Texas loses its reputation as a welcoming destination for all visitors.
Discriminatory legislation also creates costly operational and legal headaches. When proposed legislation creates confusion about whom an employee must serve and whom that employee can turn away, it creates operational chaos—and legal expense—for all Texas businesses. We are in business to serve everyone, and to employ talented people from all walks of life. We need Texas to reflect that commitment to inclusion.
Additionally, discriminatory legislation negatively impacts our ability to recruit top talent, especially among Millennials, who overwhelmingly support non-discrimination protections and seek to live in states that reflect the diversity and inclusion they value. We are in a battle for globally competitive talent, and our ability to successfully recruit and retain our future workforce of Millennial talent is critical to our long-term economic prosperity.
Despite over 250 testimonies imploring the Senate to vote against discrimination, and the FACT that in 40 years of history where the transgender community has been protected to use restrooms of their choice a transgender person has NEVER assaulted someone else in a restroom, the hearing finally came to an end, and the Senate did as expected and moved the bill forward from committee.
But as John C. Moritz via the Corpus Christi Caller Times reports, the big show vote may not have produced the results Patrick and Kolkhorst wanted from their House colleagues.
AUSTIN – As Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick accelerated his mobilization of social conservatives to push the controversial “bathroom bill” to the Senate floor, his counterpart in the Texas House went out of his way Tuesday to show the measure faces high hurdles in the Legislature’s lower chamber.
“Clearly, I’m not a fan of the bill they are discussing,” Speaker Joe Straus told reporters behind the House chamber.
Straus, a moderate Republican now in his fifth term leading the House, attempted to illustrate his point by noting that the House Public Education Committee was getting ready to tackle the thorny topic of making adjustments to the school finance system while the Appropriations Committee continued work the state budget.
Given that the Texas Legislature only meets on a biennial basis, it’s good to know that at least one leader in Austin values the time and money used to get ACTUAL business done for the Lone Star State. Let’s hope that commitment stays and Senate Bill 6 can be sent where it belongs…
If I had to guess, the first bathroom you ever used was probably a unisex bathroom. It’s called the one IN YOUR HOUSE.
Right, Left or Center, at least one aspect of this week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio can certainly be agreed upon… it was a fascinating series of events.
At its most basic level, we can all be thankful that the convention was successful– there were no major acts of violence or dangerous disruption, and hopefully everyone that participated will have a safe a journey home. Whether one agrees with the politics or not, all Americans can be proud that this year’s RNC was kept safe.
But of course, being safe and feeling safe are often two very different emotions. As Elle Magazine’s Melissa Harris-Perry shares, the RNC didn’t
Every night this week in Cleveland, the energy has waned as the hour progressed. By the time media left the Arena at 11 p.m., the building was only half full. Tonight was different. Mr Trump’s speech brought delegates and their energy to a late night crescendo. Chants we heard all week increased in fervor, volume, intensity, and frequency—” Build that wall!” “Lock her Up!” “U-S-A!”
The police presence we experienced all week was more visible than ever.
It occurred to me 30 minutes into Mr. Trump’s speech that when he finished we would be facing the classic problem of large venue events, say, concerts for example: everyone was going to leave at the same time. This would be the first time all week when we would all be streaming out at ounce. Trump supporters, fearing immigrants and criminals and hoarse from chanting about walls and locks would be in tight quarters with the liberal media liars. Team Trump is stoked by the discourse of the speech.
Keep in mind, RNCers had just undergone a week of hotel induced sleeplessness, long meetings, late nights, and cocktail parties. Then, throw in the protestors we would all have to pass as we left the zone of the arena.
Suddenly I was viscerally afraid.
Compared to any other Republican National Convention in recent memory, and certainly in the 21st century, 2016 seemed one for the books in terms of blatant vitriol, at least the kind that was caught on camera. It’s also true that Ms. Perry’s identity as an African-American woman proved to be much more the exception than the rule for this year’s RNC. Per The Washington Post, of the 2,472 convention delegates in attendance, just 18 of those were African-American… an historic low not seen in nearly century. And of course, this is against the backdrop of country which is more diverse than ever before. All season long, the Trump organization and the GOP have boasted about the monumental “growth” of the party… more primary voters than ever before, and historic voter registration numbers. That may be true, but it isn’t the same growth that is occurring in the rest of America.
Even the moments that could be considered true “brights spots” contained noticeable shade. Peter Thiel, Billionaire businessman and believed to be the first ever openly gay male to speak at a National GOP Convention gave a rousing speech showing himself proud to be gay and a Republican. But in virtually the same breath, he also throws transgender Americans under the bus by undervaluing their most fundamental rights. To his question, “who cares?” about bathrooms?? The same people which shared that room with him and worked tirelessly to repeal Pro-Equality legislation certainly do. Indeed it must be nice to be a Billionaire who also happens to be gay.
But thanks to some careful, and historic planning by Fairness USA, some of Thiel’s hateful messaging was countered. The groundbreaking TV ad, which debuted on Fox News, allows the American public to finally see the Transgender equality issue from the other side. In my opinion, this is the kind of history which is long overdue.
So as Texas Leftist predicted one year ago, RNC 2016 is now in the books, and Donald Trump has claimed his place as the Retrumplican… err I mean Republican Party’s new leader. Between you and me, the DNC 2016 can’t come fast enough.
As Americans are still learning about the tragedy that befell an Orlando, Florida nightclub, LGBT communities across the nation are organizing to mourn the victims, and call for action.
From the Inbox, here’s a notification from Pride Houston…
Tonight we stand in solidarity against hate in any form. Tonight we stand together in strength to show that fear will not win. Tonight we stand in silence as we mourn the lives lost in the senseless act of terrorism in Orlando.
We stand with our allies, friends, families and loved ones.
Join us for a candlelight vigil to grieve those LGBT people and allies lost in the attack.
We Stand In Love
Tonight, June 13, 2016 – 6:00pm
The Montrose Center
401 Branard St, Houston, Texas 77006
The Montrose Center
Legacy Community Health
So if you’re in Houston, here’s an opportunity to stand with the community in Orlando. But even beyond the shows of support, it’s high time that we call for actions that can prevent and abate the ‘easy access’ to such weapons of slaughter. Why do people that have been placed on the FBI terror watch list even have such access to purchase guns? It’s a question worth asking, and an action worth taking so these types of tragedies don’t continue.
With a heated Presidential Election in our midst, it is sometimes tough to keep up with important news surrounding other races. This is particularly the case in a state like Texas, which focuses so heavily on Republican/ Conservative media to start. But the March 1st Primary did prove to be an historic one for Progressives as well.
With over 78 percent of the vote, local politician Jenifer Rene Pool has garnered a decisive win in her Primary Race for Harris County Commissioner, Precinct 3. The victory makes Pool the First Transgender Candidate to win an election in the entire state of Texas, and one of a precious few openly transgender candidates to have won elections across the United States. She now moves on to face incumbent Republican Steve Radack in the November 8th General Election. (For more information on the history of Transgender Elected Officials and candidates, see the 2015 Report by theLGBTQ Representation and Rights Initiative at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, prepared by Logan S. Casey and Andrew Reynolds).
Prior to Election Day, Pool had earned many high profile endorsements from the Houston Chronicle, the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, and a host of other influential organizations.
Directly from Ms. Pool, here are some comments on this truly historic win…
I was gratified last night for the tremendous show of support. I am truly thankful that voters recognize me as a leader who can address the many serious issues facing Harris County, from our growing population to our copious infrastructure needs. I look forward to the campaign and General Election so we can build a better Harris County where it matters.
Pool has run previously for Houston City Council. Though she did garner over 17,000 votes in 2013, she did not move to the run-off for that election. However this week Ms. Pool was able to garner votes from over 24,000 Texans. In what is always assumed to be a very Conservative state, this victory is decisively Progressive.