DAY ONE: UMOJA ~ Unity: To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race
Have you ever heard the phrase “Crabs in a barrel”? Maybe you yourself have said that “Black people just don’t know how to work together”. Both phrases refer to a lack of unity in the Black community, and while there may be instances in which this is true, an overwhelming majority of Black people can and do work well together, even if we don’t acknowledge it. With that being said, below are some of the ways that you can incorporate Umoja into your life.
Acknowledge Your Brothers and Sisters: When you pass another Black person in public, acknowledge them by saying hello. It’s a simple act that can have a lasting impact on you and the person you greet. Saying hello can lift a person's spirits, make them feel seen and acknowledged, and it’s a way of connecting with your brother or sister that costs nothing and is low risk. Try it out, the person you greet just might say hello back!
Promote Black Initiatives: When you hear about a play, a show, a new service, or any good work happening in the Black community, check it out, and share feedback about your experience with other Black people. An important aspect of focusing on unity in Black community is supporting others that are doing work that not only amplifies positive aspects of Blackness, but also brings us together.
Assume The Best: When engaging in group work or partnerships with your brothers and sisters, assume the best possible experience and outcomes are possible. Leading with a positive mindset will allow you to lean in to the experience and put your best foot forward to ensure optimal outcomes. A positive attitude is contagious, and can often shift the energy in a group!
Take Care of Yourself, And Each Other: We are our brother and sisters keepers, and if we don’t take care of ourselves and each other, we can’t look to others to fill that gap in a meaningful way. First, take care of yourself by seeking balance in your physical and mental health and remember, self-care is self-love and is never selfish. Second, when friends or family are faced with personal struggles or challenges, provide wraparound support to get them through the troubling times. Even if the person you help is not able to reciprocate support in the same way that you offered it to them, the positive energy that you put out will come back to you in some form or another. Also, it just feels good to be able to support your sisters and brothers when they need you most!
All Black Is Beautiful: We are constantly bombarded with images promoting mainstream ideas of beauty in relation to Black men and women. These ideas have created deep rooted divisions in our community and a hierarchy of beauty based on skin tone, facial features, and hair texture. Beauty comes in many forms, and all forms are worthy of acknowledgement and celebration. View your brothers and sisters through an Umoja lens, compliment and celebrate them, and remember that in as much as we are diverse in our appearance, we are One people!