UJIMA– Collective Work & Responsibility. To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers and sisters problems our problems and solve them.When I was growing up, all neighbors had a say in my well-being. If I got caught doing something I had no business, or was in a place I shouldn’t have been trust me, I got got. LOL. Then I was marched home if the offense was bad enough, and you know what that meant right? Yep! I got got again. This does not happen much today.
As a child in the late 60’s and early 70’s, because of the relationship my parents built in the community, I was given notes to take to the corner store and whatever was on that note, I was given to take to my mother. One of the big stores was Safeway and the manager’s name was, Mr. Black. I remember because this was part of my upbringing and it taught me about relationship and trust. I watched my mother as she talked with those store managers and built relationships. My mother was trusted based on her word. That was community. If a neighbor was ill, the whole block knew about it and helped out as best they could. My mother had gotten ill many times, we did not have a telephone so I had to go to the neighbors at any given time of the night to call the fire department for help. They all knew me and I was safe. Everyone in a 10 block radius knew my parents and kinfolk. This was community.
Today, the landscape is much different. Many remain silent. Many stay in their homes not wanting to get involved. Not because they don’t want to, but because taking a stand could get them killed. Gang violence has caused many to be cautious about their participation. There are many who will raise their voices in protest to wrongs, these are the older seasoned men and women who have stood the tests of time and lived out the changes in their neighborhoods. These are the village keepers of today.Today’s Kwanzaa reflection is about community, work and responsibility, being an active participant in the community. Taking notice, interest, and doing something to make a difference. Taking on the responsibility to bring about change one small step at a time. One person at a time. One gesture at a time. Doing. Something.
My brothers and sisters, take inventory of your community. Get involved. Rake some leaves for an unsuspecting neighbor during the summertime. Offer a ride to the grocery store. Prune some trees and shrubs. Do you know someone personally or know of your neighbors in your block or even on the next block? Knock on a door of someone you really don’t know in your community and introduce yourself with a smile. Volunteer, collect, and donate needed items. I am sure by the end of this post, you have gotten some lightbulb ideas. You are needed.To those of you who are on the grind and being present and active in your community, Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! You are appreciated.