KWANZAA—UJIMA-COLLECTIVE WORK & RESPONSIBILITY- Putting the “T” back in TEAM
TO BUILD AND MAINTAIN OUR COMMUNITY TOGETHER AND MAKE OUR SISTER’S AND BROTHER’S PROBLEMS OUR PROBLEMS AND TO SOLVE THEM TOGETHERAs I lit my candle and sat before my stand keeping today’s Principle, UJIMA-COLLECTIVE WORK & RESPONSIBILITY at the center, a childhood story came to me. Stay with me familia as I will bring it or hope to bring it all together for you.
I joined the Colon Track Team in the fourth grade. I was so excited that my parents said yes to Coach Jones. I remember my first day at the stadium with my cute shortsJ and sneakers. As we got closer, I realized some of my teammates and now dearest friends were running barefoot. I was not happy about it. I had a look on my face and my mother got very upset.My mother then had a “Mama” moment and pulled me by my ears to the back of the stadium. She then firmly looked at me and said, you will take off your sneakers and join your teammates and you will never make them feel bad or less than. She ended her moment with these words; you are them now and forever.
Familia, I did become one of them and still am. My teammates where from all parts of Colon and we became a family, a community with a capital “T”.We traveled together all over Panama, slept in great spaces and not so great. When I had my first adult exchange with Coach, I realized his intent was to bring young kids from all over Colon regardless of class, together as runners but the bigger purpose was as brothers and sisters. As I sit and share with you, I now know that my parents and Coach Jones left a lasting example of UJIMA.
Every single one of them is still that to me that is why I see myself in every Black face and feel all our joy and pain. From that young girl and through my travels my eyes are open and willing to receive which has brought me to a place that I know I don’t need much to survive.As we continue to grow and gain clarity on who we are as an organization then the name makes more sense, the coming together of the African Diaspora. Every Black/African problem is our problem. When we heard what was happening to the Garifuna community in Honduras we shared the story, When Dr. Camargo faced that racist moment in the supermarket in Panama, we shared the information and joined her in her fight for justice. When we had our “Dia de Trenzas” I had my trenzas.
When Francia spoke about the displacement in Cauca, Colombia, I thought of Curundu, Panama, Bocas del Toro, Panama, Belize, Costa Rica even the South End and Roxbury. Some call it gentrification or “Progreso” but for many it is displacement from family and community.In thinking of UJIMA- COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY, if one of us doesn’t win then none of us wins.
No moment was stronger this year as the shooting of TREVON MARTIN. We felt every teen’s pain, every Black man’s struggle and our communities search for justice and equality. The young women of the HER Project reminded me that it was also every young woman’s problem as they also feel profiled.My heart feels heavy thinking of other moments this year when I did not see this happen but today I want us to reflect on putting the “T” back in Team. I am staying on the side of good today because my mother is guiding my words.
If you played any sport, been a part of any group then you understand the phrase, “ I got your Back.” I ask each of you to use that phrase with each other. I got your back, my brother, my sister and the “T” in Team will show its glorious face in our communities.A cheerleading moment is creeping up but I will spare you or I should say, save myself from the embarrassment of a bad cheer. J
Our Global African TEAM will have the colors of our home country while we hold up, BLACK, RED AND GREEN. UJIMA – COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY will be an amazing home run. Yes, I am a daughter and sister of men who love baseball so that came natural.I kneel to the ancestors a lot on this one. I ask that we become more humble with one another, to lean on the side of TEAM more. That we come together in good times and bad times and work as a TEAM. That we use the energy, the Ase, to build us UP.
The “T” in team is alive and present to receive and hug you. Peace and blessings my People.