I Celebrate Kwanzaa

I just do – since long ago when I first was introduced to it AND was blessed with ‘permission of participation’ rights from an African-American woman who didn’t care I was a White American Woman, and who I asked permission of, or at least, asked what ‘Da Rules’ were

( I have so many northern European genealogy & cultural/religious/nation state inheritances, I often confuse even myself – I come from long line of immigrant stock that got over their prejudices on who to marry/raise children with over many, many decades… thus, here and there, I do question and ask permission of many who are of more ‘purity of lines inherited folks on various fronts – cuz what do I really know? Or what did my ancestors or I get confused on/mishmashed several into one fronts? Who knows for sure?)

She shared with me the concepts of this tradition – mainly because we both cared about Shop Local and Support Small Business and Eating as Close to Source of Real food as you can fronts –

We had that in common and was how we first met

I invited her and her partner to my Christmas Eve shindig – she told me about Kwanza – I asked if I was ‘allowed’ to celebrate Kwanza – being white and all –

Even back then (nearly 20 years ago, now!) I was sensitive to ‘there are things I can admire and celebrate, but am not allowed to publicly participate in, simply because of who I am…”

She was one of the toughest, strongest, articulate during debate, folks I had in my circle at the time – no BS, ever, even when she was calling me on my own BS –

She hurt my feelings all the damn time – but oh, how I loved having her in my ‘inner circle”

Her name was Kayan – in my mind? I think of her and see ‘cayenne’ as her name –

She was spicy and could burn ya if not approached with caution, but overall, so good for one’s overall mental & soul health.

She was also a damn fine chef, so anything she fixed was good for ease of digestion, too….

I still miss her….

As far as I’m concerned? IF Kayan said I was allowed to participate?

I could and do – I don’t care who else says what – since that long ago day… when she answered “Yes” and then proceeded to lambast me for my cowardice and timidity that I might possibly ‘offend’ others – ???

Which, I still find funny – I offend folks all the time, in my well known circles – and she was giving me crap about not living my path for fear of offending those I really, have no clue about their inherited and current experiences – and knew I didn’t, thus, wasn’t sure what, exactly, was a true offense or not –

In my own sphere of knowns? I may KNOW the offenses better, but at least if I charge through to do, I know what I’m risking/doing – her life/experience/inheritances?

Me? No-true- clue – Not really – thus, for me?

BIG Danger Zone that I might do something I would forever regret, later, simply through carelessness and/or pure ignorance.

She was smart and a warrior in Life – and yet, I never felt unsafe while she delivered her ‘lectures’ –

She never made me feel less than – only instilled in me a desire to ‘grow into next better version of me.”

I guess, because, at the end of the day?

I knew we had stuff in common and I knew we had other perspectives not in common, but I also KNEW and TRUSTED – if she didn’t love me? Like me? just for me being who I was, just then??

She would simply disappear from my life.

She didn’t suffer fools lightly and she didn’t waste her time on folks she felt weren’t worth the effort – She didn’t do vengeance or guilt trips or manipulation – she just spoke her piece, and then let me ponder on it awhile – and kept taking my calls or hanging out together even when I wasn’t certain which path I was going to take – for sure….

Thus, she was a safe place to ask questions, learn more and grow more –

The Principals of Kwanzaa:

  • Umoja (Unity)
  • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
  • Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
  • Ujamaa (Cooperative economics)
  • Nia (Purpose)
  • Kuumba (Creativity)
  • Imani (Faith)

When to Celebrate it – Officially….

December 26- January 1st.

That said, it is a celebration of Family, Community and Culture – and the 7 tenets? Can be practiced and celebrated year round (and, to my mind, should be! But that’s just my personal opinion)

So I’m sharing with you – just because, I didn’t inherit it, had no reason from my own environment to even know about it – until I focused on food & nutrition, and then?

Ta-Da! I was blessed to have her, show up in my Life network; to ask questions of and get real answers from.

And ocassionally, she was vastly interested in my personal religion – ya know the one that weaves more isms, Ben Franklin, historical quotes together in with things deemed ‘new age’ or witchcraft of ye olde world’ than most faithful to their religion folks can stomach –

I was over 40 years old before I learned “God Helps those who Help themselves” is nowhere to be found in the KJV of the Bible – it is a Poor richards Almanac saying…. just FYI

She listened to it all when she would blast out at me,

“Why on EARTH are you worried about that decision to make???”

Kayan was also a lesbian – her partner was a white woman from New Zealand – they were the first ones I knew who were kind about answering my 101 questions to understand better, as a heterosexual – to understand how many points of law and insurance and such they were disenfranchised from, simply because of who they loved and were building a life/business together with…

Cuz ya know, an Unjust law is no Law at all, to my mind….

Needless to say, the combo of all that Kayan was and her loved ones put together, made so many in my family/friends circle really nervous, and worried about how to ‘act/behave’ were she and her partner attending a get together I was hosting?

Some flat out refused to attend any get together including them….for one reason or another – and dependent upon their response/reasons why? Well, some of them, just didn’t get invited anymore.

Others? Were honest with themselves and me: – “Um, I struggle with that, we’ll come see you another day, if that’s okay???”

And, well – I didn’t just cut everyone off at the knees – we all grow at our own pace – and facing up to one’s own prejudices or biases, no matter why held, isn’t an easy journey to take – I know – I dive into mine all the time…

I’m still trying to figure out how to resolve my prejudice against prejudiced folks – even though a whole bunch of liberals,progressives and new agers have informed me I’m fully allowed to have my preferences….

(as long as my prefs line up with what their preferences are… sort of like conservatives and fundamental religious folks believe in my right of freedom of speech, as long as I’m saying what they agree with… See? My Cynicism is not just ‘peeking’ out after the past few years of – ARGGH! on social levels – 😀

Life Education for free…

I learned ever so much on so many topics, from Kayan –

They moved to New Zealand to care for ailing family member/save the family farm well before I moved back to the plains, had a stroke and we lost connection via correspondence fronts, completely….possibly, forever.

The two friends who introduced us? Died before 2013.

The network may be re-established, some day, but I’m not holding out hopes. I just think of her and give thanks for the brief time our Life paths crossed and we walked together through life for awhile.

So this Kwanzaa official holiday time of year?

I am remembering fondly, Kayan, her gifts to my life and yes, I regressed and asked permission to participate in Kwanzaa from a black women in a group I was in, a few years back, to be polite and understanding – turns out she was raised in strict fundamental Christian foster home and was excited to learn about Kwanzaa – and forgave me for ‘assuming’ based on her color of skin/what I had gathered from our conversations on culture, justice, music, etc…..

But I don’t ask permission anymore since my interaction from another tough but loving, strong black lesbian woman. She was the ONLY one who noticed the group meeting day, I wasn’t myself. Came to the kitchen to ‘offer help’ with refreshments and finally said, she who I had never offered a hug too, who I figured wasn’t a huggy person,

She said, “Do you need a hug? What is going on?” and then hugged me when I started crying and told her a classmate/childhood friend had died that morning from brain cancer and I found out just before the meeting and was struggling to put my ‘game face’ on.

She is still in my circle of contacts and probably wouldn’t appreciate me bandying her name about in current blog posts – thus, she is dubbed, “Ms. Singer Extraordinaire who is Also an Engineer” in fiber optic stuff.

Nope, I no longer ask permission – I just celebrate it and invite others to celebrate it, too.

Up to them if they want to or not.

Why?

As Kayan would say,

“You have only to choose for you – if no one chooses to walk the path with you? Maybe you are wrong, maybe you are right – you only need ask if you are strong enough to walk by yourself for awhile, while you assess just how right or wrong you may be…”

Kayan (paraphrased and not quoted!)

Or at least, that’s what I learned from her – The above paraphrase is pure fiction for sake of some brevity in this post – LOL

P.S. – Artwork found, that matched Kayan’s personality (which I felt as sunlight shone onto topics many around me at the time, ignored or hid on purpose by others, even when she wasn’t ‘sunny’ herself, ever) was found at pixabay – it has the candles and Yellow in it – forgive me, Kayan, if not truly representative – but I trust you’ll know my heart – 😀

Miss you! ❤ ❤

Photo courtesy Image by ooceey from Pixabay

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