It is a Swahili term meaning “What is the news?”

What IS the news? What’s happening? Tell me what’s up? After Christmas I get to celebrate in learning my culture with my daughter. This year a phenomenal Opening Ceremony was held the Wisconsin Black Historical Society. Part museum, part meeting place, and last night, part market, the room was filled with beautiful black faces open for fellowship.

Mazao (Crops), Mkeka (Mat), Kinara (Candleholder), Muhindi (Corn), Mishumaa Saba (Seven Candles), Kikombe cha Umoja (Unity Cup), and Zawadi (Gifts)

We, The People

I came in early to get my seat, hugged those I knew, saved seats for more and waited with my camera in anticipation. Every year I’ve gone, it’s felt like a re-centering, a much needed break from the post secular store bought joy of the Hallmark Christmases, white Santas, reindeer and stale candy canes that take over the world starting November 1st.

Kwanzaa has been a jubilant reminder that my black is beautiful, being black matters and although we’ve struggled it’s not our entire identity. So much lately has been focused on the bad, even during this holiday season. The “not enough” of hustle culture is compounded by the “be twice as better” mentality.

Even Mayor Barrett came.

Speakers, spoken word and singing; It was beautiful to be present is a space of faces that looked like me taking a pause to finish the year in celebration of the majesty that is, us.

My favorite part: the African drumming and dancers. The exchange between the youth and the drummers is beautiful to see. Only way to describe it: JOY.

My daughter felt it too. The energy filled the room and she’s been wearing a lapa wrapped skirt ever since.

We practice saying Kujichagulia, Ujima, Kuumba & Umoja. Swahilli at 7 can feel like a tongue twister but the meaning behind the words matter just as much. On today the 5th day of Kwanzaa I reflect on the principle of purpose. As a queer black woman, as a mother, as a creative, and as a nurturer to those around me, in 2019 I’ve leaned into my purpose in all those areas.