Kwanzaa Day 5 - Nia: Purpose
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.
Nia: Purpose - To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
So while I do find that days 4 and 5 have similar definitions, I feel it’s good to at least expand on the ‘why.’ I don’t come from the mindset that all Black people were kings and queens. That’s literally impossible. Maybe you can be the king of your castle at home but, realistically, we’re a lot of normal people who were also allowed to do great things without having to be part of a monarchy. There’s no need for us to keep (incorrectly) saying we were all kings and queens to get respect, we should be able to show them what we had done as a collective then and continue to do now. However, a large part of our story has been obscured due to not being able to tell it ourselves.
There’s an African proverb that states - “Until the Story of the hunt is told by the Lion, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”
There are numerous ways to interpret this saying but I like to use it the most close to how it’s written and break it down further. When hunting, a person will prepare, gather weapons, plot a strategy, and stalk down an animal and call themselves courageous for killing a wild animal that could overpower them and may have attacked them. Yet when you look at it from the other side, the hunter isn’t courageous at all. The animal doesn’t know that it is its last day. It doesn’t know it’s being hunted and doesn’t have any weapons. The animal doesn’t have a chance to prepare for combat and when the hunter appears, it’s trying to protect its space and survive a battle it wasn’t ready for. When killed, I’m sure it would like to know why, but it doesn’t matter. It will never get to tell how it was hunted for sport, food or anything else. The animal only knows it was killed. (And as an aside, I’m no vegan and I eat meat pretty regularly at this time. I benefit from the processes used to kill animals for food in order to live. However, I would never fool myself into believing that it’s a courageous or noble thing to do. We do kill these beings only because they cannot speak or object, even though we obviously know they would. Such is life, but this is the reason I will NEVER respect someone who hunts for sport.)
As relating to humans, lots of Black peoples’ influences have been erased or appropriated and we’ve barely been given a say-so in how our stories are told. We’re stripped of our culture, dances, slang, music, hairstyles, and even the ability to appropriately make money in our communities without even a thank you or an apology. Just this year a Black hair store went out of business due to non-Black distributors not providing them the essentials to run their own business. The non-Black distributors are selling products exclusively geared towards the Black community but are purposely shutting them out of the process to make money and better serve their community by letting people who are a part of it do business there. Make no mistake, those distributors do not live in the areas they service, only take from it and spend that money in places their patrons would never go. It’s wrong and needs to stop in multiple ways across the board. It’s not fair that we’re not allowed to thrive within the places we live in. It’s not right that we are the inventors of every popular music style but benefit the least from it. Sharing isn’t the problem, it’s sharing without proper due and acknowledgment. It’s not asking to be seen as kings and queens above others, it’s telling you to treat us as humans that deserve recognition for the things we create. This is where the purpose comes in.
As stated on day 4, I want to use my tools and resources to make us better. I want those around us to know that we can do and have BEEN doing the same things, if not better, than those who have taken from us yet have not given us the respect of giving back. I want the ability for us to tell our own stories, I want those from the outside to know that this is where things really came from. I don’t want to scare, I want people to respect what’s going on with us. White people, Asians, indigenous tribes in Canada, Australia and places on all corners of this earth, recognize that we’re here and not some anomaly. We’re not a glitch, we’re a part of what makes this world go round just like any other part. Stop TAKING what we have and let us SHARE what we can with you while also respecting what sometimes is culturally only ours for us to tell the stories from our perspective. I wouldn’t expect a person born in China to fully appreciate and tell a firsthand account of someone’s Scottish heritage so why do people think they can do it with ours?
Our collective purpose should be the betterment of all of us in order to make sure we have a seat at the table as well as our own tables to sit at of equal quality. It really shouldn’t be any other way.