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Angela Helm Angela Helm Jan 02, 2019. 9 comments

Stacey Abrams Exemplifies the Kwanzaa Principle of Imani—Consciously Moving Forward Against Forces Seen and Unseen

Stacey Abrams Exemplifies the Kwanzaa Principle of Imani—Consciously Moving Forward Against Forces Seen and Unseen

The last day of Kwanzaa is represented by the principle of Imani, or faith—the essence of what has gotten us through when there seemed no way out. Black people, in general, are a spiritual people. But we are also a people of faith, which is not necessarily attached to formal religion. In the words of the King James version of the Bible:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the...

9 Comments

Angela Helm Angela Helm Jan 01, 2019. 1 comments

Kuumba & Chill: Netflix’s Doyenne Jasmyn Lawson Is Out Here Doing It for the Culture

Kuumba & Chill: Netflix’s Doyenne Jasmyn Lawson Is Out Here Doing It for the Culture

As we continue on our Kwanzaa trek this year, today we celebrate Kuumba, or creativity, a place where—let’s be frank—black folks excel. From Black Twitter to music of practically every genre; from comedy to cooking; from politics to fashion, we are nothing if not creative.

Kuumba is defined as: “To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful...

1 Comments

Angela Helm Angela Helm Dec 31, 2018.

Kwanzaa Queens With That Nia Heat: BMMA Founders Manifest Purpose in Saving Black Mamas’ Lives

Kwanzaa Queens With That Nia Heat: BMMA Founders Manifest Purpose in Saving Black Mamas’ Lives

As we continue to celebrate the African American cultural holiday of Kwanzaa, today brings us to Nia, or “Purpose,” defined as: “To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.”

And two black women (it’s always black women isn’t it? ), in their quest to not only restore us to our traditional greatness...

Michael Harriot Michael Harriot Dec 30, 2018. 12 comments

Dispatches From The Kwanzaa Kid: How the Grinch Stole Ujamaa

Dispatches From The Kwanzaa Kid: How the Grinch Stole Ujamaa

Here’s a lie you often hear:

“I grew up in the hood. And because I was smart, all the cool kids and the gangstas bullied me and beat me up.”

If you talk to anyone who ever knew me, none of them would describe me as cool. Even though I was the least intimidating person you would meet, I didn’t encounter much trouble because I didn’t live in “the hood.”

No one lives in “the hood” or the...

12 Comments

Angela Helm Angela Helm Dec 30, 2018. 1 comments

Kwanzaa Shout: Richelieu Dennis, the ‘Essence’ of Cooperative Economics

Kwanzaa Shout: Richelieu Dennis, the ‘Essence’ of Cooperative Economics

Today—Dec. 29—the Kwanzaa principle celebrated is Ujamaa, or “cooperative economics,” and there was very little debate as to who personified the “essence” of this concept, simply defined as such: To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.

Richelieu Dennis, founder of the and CEO of Sun­dial Brands, which includes Shea Moisture and Nubian...

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Angela Helm Angela Helm Dec 29, 2018. 1 comments

The Women of GirlTrek, in Their Literal Movement for Black Women, Radiate Collective Work and Responsibility

The Women of GirlTrek, in Their Literal Movement for Black Women, Radiate Collective Work and Responsibility

The Kwanzaa principle for today, Dec. 28, is Ujima: Collective Work and Responsibility. Ujima means building and maintaining our community together and making our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems while solving them together.

Vanessa Garrison and Morgan Dixon, the founders of GirlTrek, embody the principles of collective work and responsibility. Their eight-year-old outfit organizes...

1 Comments

Angela Helm Angela Helm Dec 28, 2018. 1 comments

Habari Gani?! Kujichagulia! Marshawn ‘Spark the Blunt’ Lynch Goes Beast Mode for Self-Determination

Habari Gani?! Kujichagulia! Marshawn ‘Spark the Blunt’ Lynch Goes Beast Mode for Self-Determination

For each day of Kwanzaa, the African-American cultural holiday that eschews the typical commercialism of the holiday season, we will be highlighting a person or persons from the past year who exemplifies the principle of the day. Kwanzaa was created in 1966 to uplift a sense of community through the principles of unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative...

1 Comments

Angela Helm Angela Helm Dec 26, 2018. 7 comments

About That Kwanzaa Life: The Ladies of KFC Were the Embodiment of Umoja in 2018

About That Kwanzaa Life: The Ladies of KFC Were the Embodiment of Umoja in 2018

As with last year, The Root is celebrating the blackest holiday of them all!

For each day of Kwanzaa, we will be highlighting a person(s) from the past year who exemplifies the principle of the day. Kwanzaa remains an African-American cultural holiday that eschews the typical commercialism of the holiday season, and uplifts a sense of community through the principles of unity,...

7 Comments

Maiysha Kai Maiysha Kai Dec 05, 2018.

12 Days of Gifting, Day 2: Home(bodies) for the Holidays

12 Days of Gifting, Day 2: Home(bodies) for the Holidays

It’s Day Two of The Glow Up’s 12 Days of Gifting—and, as promised, we’re back with more ideas for you!

I don’t know about you, but my ideal winter vacation is actually a staycation. While the weather outside is frightful (I live in Chicago, so that’s a very real possibility this time of year), I can’t think of anything better than being cozy.

No, seriously. “Cozy” is my favorite word.

Most of my...

Maiysha Kai Maiysha Kai Dec 04, 2018.

Holidazed? Welcome to Our 12 Days of Gifting—Launched with Luxury

Holidazed? Welcome to Our 12 Days of Gifting—Launched with Luxury

Okay, Glow Up gang: It’s officially December, and if you haven’t already, you need to start shopping for the holidays. Sure, we know not everyone celebrates, but for those who do, we also know not everyone is easy to shop for. For instance, what do you get the person who seemingly already has everything, without just copping out on a generic Target gift card? (No shade to Target; we love...

Eric Goldson Eric Goldson Jun 20, 2018. 24 comments

Kwanzaa Really Should Be The Best Holiday, And Here's How We Can Make That Happen

Kwanzaa Really Should Be The Best Holiday, And Here's How We Can Make That Happen

It’s become a tradition at my house to host a Christmas Eve party. This way we get to exchange gifts with family but we don’t have to leave the house on Christmas Day. This year, The Misses expanded it into an ugly sweater party with a ‘white elephant’ gift exchange. We had a signature drink, guests kept their shoes on, and it was pretty fucking hype.

But my sister didn't come. Because...

24 Comments

Jun 20, 2018. 3 comments

Why Kwanzaa Is Lit Like 7 Red, Black and Green Candles

Why Kwanzaa Is Lit Like 7 Red, Black and Green Candles

Each year, there are new essays or snide conversations about how black people don’t celebrate Kwanzaa. But I’m here to tell you that some of us do. Some of us have been doing it for decades. Yeah, I’m that unicorn.

My mother is from Cincinnati and she grew up with Christmas, but when she had children in the 1970s, she chose not to celebrate. She’s told me that it was because she didn’t want...

3 Comments

May 10, 2018.

Kwanzaa Turns 50 This Year. Are You Celebrating?

Kwanzaa Turns 50 This Year. Are You Celebrating?

Get your kinaras (candleholders) out. Kwanzaa’s turning 50, and it’s time to celebrate.

Kwanzaa, the seven-day celebration that honors African-American and Pan-African culture while affirming black pride, begins Monday and runs through Jan. 1.

Dr. Maulana Karenga, who heads the Africana-studies department at California State University, Long Beach, established the holiday in the midst of the...

Michael Harriot Michael Harriot Mar 03, 2018. 5 comments

Watch: ‘Make Kwanzaa Great Again’ Campaign Video

Watch: ‘Make Kwanzaa Great Again’ Campaign Video

Many people have wondered why Kwanzaa is not a bigger holiday or why it is overshadowed by Christmas every year (and when we say “many people,” like our esteemed president, we mean four ... maybe five, tops). In response, we decided to celebrate Kwanzaa Week by pouring our considerable resources, time and money into creating a movement to elevate Kwanzaa to its rightful place as the blackest...

5 Comments

Aliya S. King Aliya S. King Jan 13, 2018. 13 comments

I Just Celebrated Christmas for the 1st Time in My Whole Entire Life, and I Lived to Tell the Tale

I Just Celebrated Christmas for the 1st Time in My Whole Entire Life, and I Lived to Tell the Tale

Just a few weeks ago, I celebrated Christmas for the first time. Ever.

All my life, there were no stockings hung by the chimney with care. (And I grew up in a house with a real, live working chimney!) No carefully wrapped gifts. No smell of pine needles and gingerbread houses. No carefully decorated Christmas tree with garland, candy canes and ornaments handed down through generations. None of...

13 Comments

Angela Helm Angela Helm Jan 02, 2018. 1 comments

Habari Gani?! Imani! The Black Women of Alabama Embodied Faith in 2017

Habari Gani?! Imani! The Black Women of Alabama Embodied Faith in 2017

Faith. George Michael crooned about it; black people in America somehow maintain it—even if it’s the size of a mustard seed—time and time again.

Faith, or Imani, is the last principle of Kwanzaa, the weeklong black cultural holiday started more than half a century ago.

This entire week, for each day of Kwanzaa, The Root shone the spotlight on one person from the community who exemplified the...

1 Comments

Angela Helm Angela Helm Jan 01, 2018. 3 comments

Habari Gani?! Kuumba! Robin Thede Embodied Creativity in 2017

Habari Gani?! Kuumba! Robin Thede Embodied Creativity in 2017

This year, for each day of Kwanzaa, The Root is highlighting one person from the community who exemplifies the principle of the day.

On the sixth day of Kwanzaa, Dec. 31, the principle is Kuumba, or “creativity.” To practice Kuumba is to do always as much as we can, in the way that we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

The person who we felt...

3 Comments

Angela Helm Angela Helm Dec 31, 2017. 8 comments

Habari Gani?! Kujichagulia! Cardi B Was the Embodiment of Self-Determination in 2017

Habari Gani?! Kujichagulia! Cardi B Was the Embodiment of Self-Determination in 2017

This year, for each day of Kwanzaa, The Root is highlighting one person from the community who exemplifies the principle of the day.

On the second day of Kwanzaa, Dec. 27, the principle is Kujichagulia, or “self-determination.” To practice Kujichagulia is to define and name ourselves, as well as to create and speak for ourselves.

The person we feel best exemplified self-determination this year...

8 Comments

Angela Helm Angela Helm Dec 31, 2017. 9 comments

Watch: What Do You Know About Kwanzaa? 

Watch: What Do You Know About Kwanzaa? 

When The Root video producer P.J. Rickards and I stepped onto the streets of Harlem (full disclosure: my beloved hood), we were both surprised at the dearth of information about Kwanzaa, the African-American cultural holiday started more than 50 years ago.

Honestly, I think Kwanzaa was more popular in the ’90s, when it was all about Afrocentrism and black medallions. Now many folks, especially...

9 Comments

Michael Harriot Michael Harriot Dec 31, 2017. 11 comments

#MakeKwanzaaGreatAgain, Explained

#MakeKwanzaaGreatAgain, Explained
Can you explain the #MakeKwanzaaGreatAgain hashtag?

Sure. This will be one of our shortest explainers ever.

The Root has started a grassroots campaign to place Kwanzaa at the top of the list of the most important black cultural traditions. Essentially—I know it’s hard to tell our intentions from the hashtag—we want to make Kwanzaa great again.

Haha. I’m ashamed to ask this, but, umm . . . what...

11 Comments

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