Kwanzaa day 1 - Umoja: Unity

I’ve meant to do this in the past but never felt I had the right outlet or platform for it. Now that I’ve finally got my own site it’s definitely the right time. I’ll be celebrating Kwanzaa by writing a new piece every day for 7 days based on each of the 7 principles and what they have meant to me this past year and how I’ll be incorporating these principles in the future.

Day 1: Umoja: Unity - To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

This year was trying to say the least for me. Maintaining unity in my family was probably the hardest but most necessary thing I had to do. As a divorced father of two girls, I did my best to keep our unit intact, even if that meant uprooting us to get ourselves in a better situation. Without going into the full details, I was transitioning into a new job at the same time a major crisis hit my family. It made it necessary to take everything we had and transport us from Tennessee back to Texas for a while in order to get some semblance of chill in our lives. And while on the surface it was good to get away, certain factors put our happiness and stability in jeopardy many times over, even to this day. This has motivated me to make drastic changes in the coming year in order to keep a consistent life in an area I love that also makes my co-parenting situation more tenable. I find myself constantly striving to strike this balance between what’s right and what’s necessary and what will keep us happy and I can’t say that I get it right often but I can say that I am trying. Sorry Yoda, it’s not just do or do not. There’s always try.

This brings me to my community. While back in Tennessee I had a great community and gathering of friends, over time that thing happened where it came time for everyone to show their hand and a lot of people folded. It was a bit of a shock but needed in order to give me peace of mind and I thank those people for showing this to me. I’ll always be grateful and appreciative of what I had there for the time that I had it but this helped me see that I need to regroup and build a more solid foundation starting from home and then extending outward. Texas is the home to many connections that I’ll never be able to rid myself of but, as I’ve said before, Texas ain’t home. I wasn’t born in Tennessee or Texas but Nashville has always been where I felt most comfortable and recently it became more than obvious that it’s the place I need to fully establish my community.

Randomly I got an opportunity to do a write-up for the upcoming National Museum of African-American Music that’ll be opening in Nashville in 2020 and it solidified my decision to go back and never leave in the coming year. I saw my first live music shows in Nashville and experienced sides of that city that showed me how rich in culture it is but also showed me that there’s a place for me to fit right in. I lived and worked in the city for about 3 years and it was one of the best times of my life. Even when I moved back 45 minutes away, I frequently came back for music, entertainment and just a damn good time. Friends welcomed me, strangers were nicer to me than people I’ve known for years and it was more than inviting. Nashville is a city made for someone like me and I’ll be back soon to enter the museum and everything else the city has to offer. My newest community is there, I just have to meet them when I come back and establish myself again. I can’t wait.

My nation and race are pretty much tied to each other this year and most likely will be for years to come. Though Facebook has turned into a shit platform, there are pockets of good that are lying beneath and waiting to get to the next thing. These groups are full of open minds and people looking for a deeper meaning, asking the hard questions and trying to change the world little by little. This year I was invited to several groups that are critical of certain race relations and calling out behaviors within ourselves and people who are part of the problem but willing to listen. White people, we talk a lot about white people. But offshoot groups popped up and became more concentrated on more detailed messages and I can’t thank them enough for all that they do to open up dialogue and make us take hard and critical looks at ourselves and our own behaviors. And while I’ve always tried to better myself by tackling my own hypocrisies first, I’ve now had questions put before me that I NEVER thought of but knew in some way to now make more conscious changes. As a Black man, I need to not only hold myself accountable but I also need to spread information to hold others accountable as well, even if it makes them uncomfortable. My brothers, sisters and extended family shouldn’t get a pass just because I don’t want to offend them because they’re willfully offending other sides of that same family. And I’m not talking lectures, just doing my part to get everyone to respect those who are like us but also NOT like us in different ways. That’s where this site comes in.

I started this site as an outlet for my various endeavors; making music and writing are, of course, are the main things. But through those things, I can spread the knowledge I’ve gained to help my people out. Yes, my non-Black friends are welcomed and encouraged to read and spread these words but I do want my Black and Brown brothers and sisters to discuss and read these things more. I want people to see another side to certain arguments, understand why there’s another way and even if you don’t agree with me, at least now know that there’s more than just what we’ve been told. I don’t write or make music just because, I do it for the cause. I get that there are millions if not billions of people who do what I do but I honestly wouldn’t do it at all if I didn’t feel as though I had something unique to say. If there were a producer, emcee or writer that said the things that were on my mind and related to me to a T, I would hang it up and find something else to do. But as of now, that hasn’t happened and so I’ll do it until they come along. Then I hope that the things I create will bridge some gaps in knowledge and unity amongst us all. I’ve always been and will always be Black and there’s no way to change that, nor would I want to. So with that said, I’m going to unite my race, protect my nation and call us out on our own bullshit to make us stronger as a whole. Not for supremacy, just for us to be our own best. We’ll always have problems, that’s a given, but I want to eliminate as many from within our own families, communities, nation and race as possible while on this earth and I hope this trend continues when I’m long gone and people keep discovering words.

My journey has already started but this unity will be a major focus in the coming year and beyond.

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