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December 2008

Celebrating Kwanzaa...Day 6 - Kuumba (Creativity)

Today is day 6 of Kwanzaa, Kuumba (koo-oom-bah), creativity.

Kuumba (Creativity)
To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

The black candle movie

The Black Candle is a landmark, vibrant documentary that uses Kwanzaa as a vehicle to explore and celebrate the African-American experience.

Narrated by world renowned poet Maya Angelou and directed by award-winning author and filmmaker M.K. Asante, Jr., The Black Candle is an extraordinary, inspirational story about the struggle and triumph of African-American family, community, and culture.

Filmed across the United States, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean, The Black Candle is a timely illumination on why the seven principles of Kwanzaa (unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith) are so important to African-Americans today.

The first feature film on Kwanzaa, The Black Candle traces the holiday’s growth out of the Black Power Movement in the 1960s to its present-day reality as a global, pan-African holiday embraced by over 40 million celebrants.

With vivid cinematography and an all star cast that features the best and brightest from the hip-hop and the civil rights generations, The Black Candle is more than a film about a holiday: it’s a celebration of a people!

Celebrating Kwanzaa...Day Five - Nia (Purpose)


Welcome to the fifth day of Kwanzaa. Nia (Nee-ah) - purpose.

Nia (Purpose)
To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

As all of the previous Kwanzaa principles are interrelated, today's powerful principle is Purpose. Why are you here? Other than take up air and space, what do you have to offer to the community? Do you give back to the community or are you a parasite and take for your own benefit only? Think about it.

Khepera Kreations

Khepera Kreations



Blagojevich Controversy Goes Racial [POLL]

From Vanessa: Unplugged!:

You can say what you like about embattled Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, but his appointment of Former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to the seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama was a brilliant move.

As expected, race has come to the forefront of this situation and Blagojevich can just sit back and watch the Democratic Party leaders squirm while tries to save himself. Now that President-elect Obama has gone on record siding with Democrat senate leaders, this political circus will continue.

It’s unfortunate that this situation has come to this; the people of Illinois are the real losers.

Too Many People to Breathe


It's interesting to take a ride around Miami. Not the touristy siightseeing Miami or the SoBe Miami but the Miami where many typical working people live. Wow, things change. Sometimes not for the better.

While on an errand to meet a mailing deadline, I ended up not at my regular post office branch but the branch in Miami Shores. The lines tend to be shorter there and there are more windows open.

Anyhoo, I probably hadn't been to that branch in about a year or more. Much to my surprise, a large apartment complex had been constructed next to it and dwarfed the small post office building.

Don't get me wrong, because the apartment building was clean and the little landscaping present was neat. The building had that utilitarian feel to it and just eyeballin' the number of units was evidence of too many people in that size space.

The northeast and northwest portions of Miami are losing their feeling of openness and in some areas feel more like space for herding cattle. A nice paint job doesn't remove the cramped feeling that just doesn't allow people to breathe.

An upside to this overcrowding issue is the fact that the schools in the area may realize an increase in the number of students in the area which may translate to much needed funding for schools in the area.

If there were also opportunities for cultural programming, that would go a long way toward ameliorating the density issue.

Celebrating Kwanzaa...Day Four - Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)

Today is day four of Kwanzaa, Ujamaa [Oo-jah-mah], cooperative economics. When we practice Ujamaa, we build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and profit from them together.

How can one not recognize the benefit in this principle? When a community establishes a strong economic foundation, its residents are likely to be greater participants in shaping the agenda for other areas that govern their lives such as education and politics.

Locally, there is evidence of the power of cooperative economics if you travel any main street in Miami-Dade County. In particular, check out Hialeah, Doral, or West Miami. I could name others but my point is that the number of Hispanic-owned businesses and Hispanics in business correlates to the power and influence of Hispancs in government, education, etc.

Cooperative economics is at the heart of that progress. It's not rocket science and doesn't take a genius to understand what needs to be done to replicate that success in the black community. Support black businesses.

Indulge me in sharing a brief but true story. I recall meeting with some black state legislators several years ago while lobbying for funding to re-establish the Florida A&M University School of Law. One of the legislators, from north Florida, spoke of how he had been in Miami with one of his Cuban colleagues during an earlier visit and they needed something from the grocery store. Rather than stop at the nearest Publix or Winn-Dixie, they ended up shopping at Sedano's Supermarket and paying more for the items than they would have at one of the larger food chain stores.

This occured at least15 or 16 years ago when there was probably one, definitely no more than two local Sedano's stores. Now, there are probably close to 30 Sedano's stores. It's not rocket science, folks, but it does require sacrifice. Sedano's didn't start out as a fancy store but through hard work and sacrifice of the owners and their customers...30 for their's real simple. We could talk about Eldorado Furniture and Navarro Pharmacy also but I think you get the picture.

There's a flip side to this also and that's the expectation of delivering excellent customer service and a quality product. Black businesses tend to have problems raising capital, and current economic conditions make that even more difficult but they don't get a pass on customer service and shoddy workmanship.

Also important is the need for black leadership in the black community that will drive an agenda for the black collective rather than for themselves. Too many opportunities for improvement in the black community have been squandered while others have been and continue to be smothered but let me not go there right now; I'll deal with that in another post about what I call Black on Black crime.

Some folks consciously or sub-consciously send a message that blacks are not good entrepreneurs and many of us buy into that otherwise this post would have no merit but it does. Let's never forget the successful black-owned businesses in Overtown and the damage inflicted upon the black community after the construction of I-95. 

It's nothing new that when the rest of the world has a cold, black people have pneumonia. We are accustomed to dealing with adversity. We are survivors. It's almost 2009, it's time to stop just surviving and start thriving. Habar gani!




Miami Herald must read on revival of black cultural societies in Cuba

Posted on Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008


Race-based clubs see revival in Cuba


More than 50 years have passed, but Afro-Cuban author Pedro Pérez Sarduy still remembers the dances.

He and his friends would dress smartly in white linen guayaberas and black bow ties to attend balls at La Bella Unión (Beautiful Union), a social club in his hometown of Santa Clara, Cuba. At these matinés, they danced cha-cha-cha and flirted with girls.

''The matiné went from 1 until 5 with a local orchestra for the kids,'' Pérez Sarduy said. ``After that, the dance for adults had a good orchestra because this was important for the prestige of the club.''



Celebrating Kwanzaa...Day Three - Ujima (Collective Work & Responsibility)

Communityorganizer Today is Day 3 of Kwanzaa, Ujima [Oo-jee-mah], collective work and responsibility.

Collective Work and Responsibility reminds us of our obligation to the past, present and future, and that we have a role to play in the community, society, and world.

Local high school students in Project MPACT (Miami Partnership for Action in Communities Task Force) practiced Ujima by constructing a home for elderly Miami resident Jeanette Painson who had been scammed by a contractor who took her money and never built her home.

The students teamed up with Ario Lundy of Palmetto Homes of Miami and construction professionals to give Painson a new home. They worked for five months after school and her new Liberty City home is beautiful.

While the MPACT project allowed the students to earn money while they built the home, they were able to gain valuable skills and experience in construction. Equally, if not more important is the sense of pride the young men realized when looking at the finished product.

We are our brother and sister's keeper. We are obliged to revere our ancestors, be a positive role model and guide the next generation.

We are our community and our community is us. Habari gani!

Suspect arrested in murder of homeless man

Sedrek Singleton was arrested in the murder of Todd Hill as Hill slept on a bench near the Miami River early Friday morning.

Singleton fit the description of the culprit and was apprehended wearing a shirt with Hill's blood on it. It's been reported that Singleton attacked Hill because Hill "looked at him wrong."

That's a shame. Singleton is entitled to a trial but what's the point unless he uses mental defect as a defense.

This situation is similar to the Norris Gaynor case in Broward County. His attackers, Billy Ammons, Brian Hooks and Thomas Daugherty, were recently sentenced to Raiford prison for his murder.

Homeless people deserve protection just as anyone else. It's great that witnesses of the attack on Todd Hill were courageous and spoke up about the incident.

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Celebrating Kwanzaa...Day Two - Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)

Today is the second day of Kwanzaa, Kujichagulia [koo-jee-cha-goo-lee-ah], self-determination. To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.

A self-determined people group is a powerful force to be reckoned with. They shape and determine their own agenda be it political, economic, social, cultural or spiritual.

When we practice the principle of Kujichagulia other inter-related Kwanzaa principles come into play. We accept responsibility for determining what happens in our community rather than waiting for someone to do it for us.

When we practice the principle of Kujichagulia we don't whine about our problems, we solve them. Kujichagulia allows the people group to experience a sense of freedom to make positive change as individuals and for the collective.

Self-determination is evidenced each time we vote or don't vote, voice our opinion at a meeting of a governing board, spend money at a black-owned business, organize our neighborhood Crimewatch team or make a conscious decision not to conform to standards that suppress the magnificence of our natural African beauty and heritage.

Let's apply the principles of Kwanzaa in our daily lives and manifest our own destiny.


"We face neither East nor West ; we face Forward" - Kwame Nkrumah