The Season And Economics
is an African in America celebration
based on African agricultural/harvest celebrations and collective
principles which contribute to the unity and development our
community in the United States. This
is the 49th
anniversary of Kwanzaa and the 46th
year of its
celebration in Chicago.
was created to introduce African people in America to new values.
Kwanzaa is a seven day celebration that is held from December 26 to
January 1. These new values are called the Nguzo
the seven principles of Blackness, “if practiced would give
them (us) a set of priorities and commitments which would enhance
their (our) human possibilities and lead to their (our) liberation
and a higher level of human life.”
United States economy is suffering from the white supremacy arrogance
of centuries of brutal exploitation of the world’s resources
and its people.
era of United States history demands that African people in America
place a greater degree of emphasis on our collective economic
salvation. Once again, the old truth that “Black people are the
last hired and the first fired,” is surfacing itself throughout
the major employment centers in this country.
this economic crisis, the Kwanzaa season helps us place the question
of economics on the agenda of our struggle. The eradication of our
economic slave condition must continue to be a major challenge as we
enter the twenty-first-century.
cannot be stated enough that we are far too dependent on Europeans
and Asians for our food, clothing and
principle we commemorate during the Kwanzaa season that speaks to
this issue is Ujamaa (Cooperative
Economics). This principle encourages African people in America "to
build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to
profit from them together." On the fourth day of Kwanzaa,
Wednesday, December 29th, this principle is celebrated.
this regard, it is important, once again, to state Malcolm X’s
economic philosophy of Black nationalism. Malcolm said:
must be re-educated to the importance of controlling the economy
which we live by owning and operating the business in the community
we live in and developing some industry that will employ our people
so we won’t have to boycott and picket other people in other
communities to get a job. We must understand the importance of
spending money in the community in which we live.”
went on to say that, “The neighborhoods in which you spend your
money become richer and richer and the neighborhoods in which the
money is taken out of becomes poorer and poorer. This creates slums -
all the wealth leaves.”
speaking on the topic of economic philosophy of Black nationalism,
Malcolm continues by pointing out:
when we try to spend money in our own community we don’t.
Business is controlled by outsiders who don't live in the community
because we don't know the importance of owning and operating
businesses ourselves. So money leaves the community in a basket at
sundown. We must control our own economy.”
important activity African American people should practice during the
Kwanzaa season is doing business with each other, thus continuing
this practice throughout the year.
next to the final chapter of Dr. Chancellor Williams classic book,
The Destruction of Black
Civilization, he addresses the issue
of “Organizing A Race For Action.”
Williams explains that this organizing for racial action should have
as a major component, “The Division of Economic Planning and
Development.” He explains that:
Division of Economic Planning and Development should be the
foundation of the organized efforts and a principal source of support
and promotion of the most important activities of the whole race. A
guiding principle should be that all promoted community enterprises
shall be cooperatively owned and controlled by the people of the
community and that each enterprise be highly trained management and
competent service personnel.”
this connection, Dr. Williams makes this observation:
second great understanding should be that economic activities are so
fundamental in any truly upward movement, so clearly indispensable at
this stage in history, that it should be unnecessary to state it
we are ever to become a free and independent people, we must organize
the race for action.
The Challenges Of A New Season
we enter a New Kwanzaa Season, we must remind ourselves of the
continued challenges that we face. The fundamental issue that
Africans in America must face is centered around the continued
assault by the systems of racism and white supremacy that keeps us in
bondage, servitude, and often times, confusion. What is at stake is
our survival as a race of people. We must come to grips with the
following challenges as we enter a New Kwanzaa Season.
Development: There is no question that the African in American
family is in major disarray and is in need of major repair. Without
strong African in America families, raising and nurturing our
children, the future will remain bleak. Families are the
foundation for the survival and development of a people.
African men and women need to close ranks and reestablish the
tradition of strong Black families in America.
Development: Many Africans in America women and men continue to
remind us that we earn in excess of 600 billion dollars a year in
this country. The tragedy of this economic potential in the African
Community in America is that the overwhelming majority of this income
we earn, we spend with other people and not with our own. Other
people still continue to dominate and maximize profits from our
communities for their own advancement. When are we going to stop this
awful practice of allowing other people to benefit from the dollars
Development: We have often said that politics is the science of
who gets what, when, where, and how. And in this regard, we should
recognize that the white power structure and its Black allies are
doing everything possible to rupture our continuing movement for
Black political empowerment. In electoral politics the lessons are
clear. Personality clashes and individual personal conflicts have no
place in the world of politics! The only thing that matters is what
is best for African people in America. If we don't remain unified
politically, we will not benefit from our efforts to increase Black
political power in Chicago or in any other cities in which we live.
Development: Why should other people profit from our artistic and
creative endeavors? It is clear that we are a creative people with a
unique culture of our own. However, in this area the writers, poets,
musicians, dancers, singers, actors, etc. must strive to control what
we create and the entire African Community should aggressively
support their efforts.
Affairs: We must work harder to support the struggle of our
brothers and sisters in Africa, the Caribbean, and South America in
their continued liberation struggle for land and independence.
Discontinuity: It appears the more we are oppressed under the
system of racism and white supremacy, the more we forget our history.
One generation from the next has difficulty remembering our great
struggles, battles, and movements.
Cruse points out in his book, The Crisis of the Negro
Intellectual, “The farther the Negro [Black person] gets
from his [her] historical antecedents in time, the more tenuous
become his conceptual ties, the emptier his [her] social conceptions,
the more superficial his visions.”
must be clear, at this point in history that African people need to
determine for ourselves solutions to the many serious problems we
face. We should realize going into this New Kwanzaa Season that no
one will do for us what we really need to do for ourselves.
is time we begin providing for ourselves in all areas of life. No
longer should we listen and adhere to how other people define us and
our struggle. Accomplishing the objective of elevating our struggle
to a higher level will require that we become more skilled in
organizing our communities toward our liberation and freedom.
an old African proverb points out, “Those who are dead have not
gone forever. They are in the woman’s womb. They are in the
child who whimpers.”