Ujima and Ujimaa are principles of Kwanzaa, an African+American Winter ritual held during the last 7 days of the United States fiscal year. Respectfully they mean, "(Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems and to solve them together and (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together. These principles have been celebrated and lifted in Spirit every year by communities across the nation since the 1970s. That's atleast 40 years.
Yall I think we threw the proverbial "baby out with the bathwater." This has been on my mind for a while now... How my peoples- my kinfolk and skinfolk- got so far away from our traditions. Got so far away from self-preservation. Of course the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade took everything from us; body and mind. In some cases, even Spirit was given away. Brutality will force someone to trade their Spirit for a few moments relief from torture. I get it. What I don't get is how something as basic as food and water is not a priority. Its mind-blowing. We cant put blame on what happened to our family 4-5 generations ago (2-3 for some folks in Mississippi and those other small plantation towns trapped in antebellum hell) on what we are not doing for ourselves now. The level of reliance we have allowed our generations to depend on others outside of our best interests for everything of necessity for survival is tragic. And the first excuse most give when asked, "Why no gardens, no farms, no food co-ops?" is poverty. That's no excuse tho... For a rational minded individual, poverty would be the prime motivator to produce food. In pots. In alleyways. In public spaces. Dirt is free and abundant. Seeds are free when saved and collected from their sources.. Rain water is free. Find a spot on the ground and drop a seed. I don't understand? How is this not common practice? The Elders blame Social Services. Supplemental welfare medicates many of the symptoms of poverty. So there's that.. Then what about working-class and middle class folks? With front- and backyards for landscapes and gardens? Excuses: Don't have time to do the labor for maintaining a garden. Birds. Bugs. Tired. Supermarkets. Trust in the system. Mostly, trust in the system. The logic is, 'Of course the food will be on the shelves. This is America.' And when that trust is questioned based on Historical facts- people start name calling and placing labels, primarily "Conspiracy Theorist" and "Survivalist"... As if survival isnt the first law. As if last week Romaine Lettuce wasnt recalled and not a green leaf was on the shelves.
The baby was thrown out with the bathwater. I'm thinking we linked Southern plantations and Southern culture such as KKK and Jim Crow with Southern farms, livestock and all things "country." I recall Black Farmers calling foul-play on racist banking practices that ultimately pushed them off the land. (1) I also recall the children of Black farmers rejecting their family's legacy and trading it for big city dreams. (2) See there goes the baby. To turn down the family's business and available capital in exchange for magic beans? Insanity. Yes, there is hard-labor involved with farming. Yes there are early mornings and sacrifices. But how is it that we are so fatigued in comparison to other tribes and heritages? We have given away the responsibilities of producing our own to other Nations, as if they have a moral obligation to provide sustenance for us. And its bigger and much more sinister than affording the luxury of going to the store for our needs. There is a small section of the supermarkets that provide food our bodies can easily convert to energy. This small section of food is quickly becoming more expensive and less accessible. What remains in the stores is causing people to die early deaths from heart-failures, brain strokes and dementia. Problems easily solved when the solution is a priority. And once we remember and honor our traditions.
We stopped by Buccee's on Saturday. It's a Texas-based truckstop that boasts as being #1. And rightfully so. They put the work in to keep it clean, the food selection ranges from fresh salads to bbq brisket and they have a massive gift shop. The gift shop prompted this post. I realized that I had been glossing over the "Southern-themed" merchandise. Everytime I go there. As if it isnt even there. When I looked around I noticed all of my skinfolk were avoiding those sections. I also realized that I typically avoid the "Southern Pride" paraphernalia, along with all other things southern. The thing is 'Southern' also means hunting, farming, crafting, right to bear arms, stand-your-ground, and a whole heap of self-determination and sovereign principles that are associated with being "Southern & country." And too many of us rebuke the labels (for ggod reasons) but do so in ignorance of all that we've thrown away. I'm beginning to understand why 'white' Southerners cling so tightly to their heritage. Its a survival thang. A food, clothing and shelter thang. Truth be told, most of White Southerners do not descend from wealthy plantation owners. Instead their peoples were slaves too. Share Croppers. Poor and landless. Thus their need to cling to racism. To ensure a fortified divide... barrier... wall... prevents competition for resources. Life can be scary when you're on the bottom looking up. No excuses.. Just observations. The part they get right is their loyalty to the land. And this loyalty is reinforced by their Culture- for better and for worse. Thus I can go into a truckstop and see Southern values- farming items, homesteading materials, hunting tools, beef jerky... lol.. and their flags as a symbol of what they will defend, if and when the situation calls for it.
Yes, there are many individual examples that will invalidate my position. However, by and large I think my skinfolk and kinfolk are doing ourselves a huge disservice by not investing in food and water sources. And I know it's psychological as to why we do not see the need to do so. It is deeper and darker than an avoidance of "hard work." Ya'll should already know I'm quick to blame Magick, lol. Which most definitely plays its part too.. B.u.t. for the non-believers, let's just start with the Shadows- our deeply held perceptions of being Southern and how those thoughts influence our actions. Why we avoid being seen as "country" while knowing others are proudly clinging to title. When and where these thoughts originated. And most importantly, How do we reconcile these negative connotations so that we can progress?
Lets make sure we've got the baby before we throw out the dirty bathwater. (3)